Narcan, also known by the generic name naloxone, can reverse a heroin overdose by blocking its effect on the brain, says the Village Voice. It is routinely used by doctors and paramedics, and it has long been dispensed to heroin addicts in Europe. Last year, needle-exchange programs in New York City started offering a class on how to use Narcan, with a doctor on-site to hand out prescriptions.
Ten needle-exchange programs now participate, and 500 people have received Narcan. Those who use up their supply can return for a refill. A group called the Harm Reduction Coalition reports 45 “reversals”–instances in which Narcan was used to stop an overdose and save a life. Shaun, 28, a participant in the course, says, “If anyone is going to help us, it’s going to be us. I’ve been using dope since I was 15, so why not learn how to save my friends?” Narcan saved his life, too. Last year, he overdosed, then regained consciousness after an acquaintance injected him.