What to do for an opioid overdose:
Opioid overdose can be reversed through overdose reversal medication. There are several medications available. The most commonly available medication is naloxone, or Narcan®.
Step 1: Check for Signs
If you recognize the signs of an overdose check for responsiveness and/or breathing:
- Yell or make a loud noise
- Shake, firmly nudge or pinch the person
If there is no response, move to Step 2.
Step 2: Give an Overdose Reversal Medication, such as Naloxone, as quickly as possible:
Instructions for nasal spray naloxone, such as Narcan®:
- Remove device from package
- Hold with thumb on bottom of plunger—your first and middle fingers should be on either side of the nozzle
- Place tip of nozzle in either nostril—your fingers should be against the nose
- Press the plunger firmly with your thumb to release dose into nose
- If first dose doesn’t work within 1–3 minutes, give a second dose
If an overdose reversal medication is not available, move to Step 3.
Step 3: Call 911 immediately
First responders can provide additional support and assistance with breathing and overdose recovery, including transportation to medical care if necessary.
Step 4: Help Breathing
- Try to keep the person awake and breathing
- Lay them on their side to prevent choking
Step 5: Stay
- Remain with the person until emergency workers arrive
- Give CPR if you know how and if it is needed
The goal of the overdose reversal medication is to prevent fatal overdose by restoring breathing. Naloxone is a temporary treatment. More than one dose might be needed under some circumstances, especially if an overdose event involved fentanyl.
Is there any liability if I assist someone who is overdosing?
No. California has two laws that protect individuals against liability when responding to an opioid overdose.
California’s Good Samaritan Law (Health and Safety Code § 1799.102) establishes that a person cannot be liable for any civil damages that result from providing of emergency care, such as reversing an overdose, if:
- The person acted in good faith and not for compensation
- The person provided either emergency medical care or nonmedical care
- The care was provided at the scene of an emergency.