Warning: The following post contains spoilers for episode two of HBO’s Euphoria.
• On Sunday night’s episode of Euphoria, a drug dealer forces Rue to take fentanyl.
• After she collapses, Fezco tells Ashtray to “go grab the Narcan just in case”—but what is Narcan?
• Narcan is the brand name of Naloxone, an opioid overdose reversal drug.
Rue’s drug abuse took a turn for the worse in Sunday night’s episode of Euphoria. As you watched Zendaya’s character deal with the scary aftermath of taking fentanyl, you might have heard her drug dealer buddy Fezco mention something called “Narcan”—but what is that, exactly?
First, a refresher on what happened in HBO’s new teen drama: In one of many disturbing scenes in episode two of Euphoria, a creepy face-tattooed drug dealer named Mouse pressures Rue to lick fentanyl off his knife. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that’s 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine, and it’s responsible for more than half of all opioid-related deaths in the United States, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse—so it’s no wonder than Rue is left lying on the couch after taking it, barely conscious.
“It hits quick,” Mouse says, stuffing a few more fentanyl patches into Rue’s shorts. After forcing Fezco to pay up for the drugs, Mouse and his equally-creepy henchman depart, leaving Fezco and Ashtray—everyone’s favorite 12-year-old drug dealer—to take care of Rue.
“Go flush that shit down the toilet and go grab the Narcan just in case,” Fezco says to Ashtray.
What is Narcan?
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Narcan is the brand name version of Naloxone, the opioid overdose reversal drug. Naloxone is known as an “opioid antagonist,” meaning it binds to the opioid receptors in the brain and blocks drugs like heroin and fentanyl from having their typical effect, according to NIDA. Naloxone is so powerful, it can pull someone out of an opioid overdose in around 2-5 minutes.
Medical professionals can administer Naloxone as an injection, but ordinary people can purchase it in the form of a nasal spray (called Narcan) or an auto-injectable (called Evzio). It’s so easy to use, kids in middle school have been trained to use it to prevent overdoses.
Can I buy Narcan?
Yes. Narcan is now available at pharmacies nationwide, including CVS and Walgreens. If you’re insured, it could cost between $0 and $20 for a two-dose kit, according to Time; if you’re not, it could cost between $130 and $140.
Is Narcan dangerous?
Some cynics have questioned whether the increased availability of Naloxone is helping or hurting America’s opioid crisis, but the drug itself is safe to use and is credited with reversing at least 26,500 overdoses between 1996 and 2014, according to NIDA.
“There is no evidence of significant adverse reactions to naloxone,” NIDA’s website states. And while the drug may cause withdrawal symptoms in someone with an opioid addiction, “the risk that someone overdosing on opioids will have a serious adverse reaction to naloxone is far less than their risk of dying from overdose.”
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