Take home naloxone is available for free to people who may experience or witness an opioid overdose or adverse reaction.
What is naloxone
Naloxone is a medicine that can temporarily reverse the effects of opioids. It works by blocking opioid drugs from attaching to opioid receptors in the brain.
Naloxone has virtually no effect in people who have not taken opioids.
Naloxone can be administered by nasal spray or intramuscular injection.
An ambulance should always be called even if naloxone is given because naloxone only lasts for 30 to 90 minutes and a person can show signs of the overdose again once it wears off.
More information on how to administer naloxone is available from the Australian Government website.
Who can get naloxone
Anyone who is at risk of, or who may witness, an overdose or adverse reaction can get take home naloxone for free without a prescription. This includes peers, carers, family and friends of people who take opioids.
People who use other illicit drugs should consider carrying naloxone as strong opioids have been detected in drugs presented as methamphetamine, cocaine, ketamine and counterfeit benzodiazepines.
Where to get naloxone
A list of participating community pharmacies and other sites in the ACT is available on the Pharmacy Programs Administrator website.
Naloxone is also available from:
Where to get training on overdose
Canberra Alliance for Harm Minimisation and Advocacy (CAHMA) runs overdose management and prevention training workshops for individuals and organisations. Contact CAHMA for more information (email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 02 6253 3643).
Information for community pharmacies
Community pharmacies can register to be an Approved Provider under the National Take Home Naloxone program via the Pharmacy Programs Administrator Portal.
The program subsidises the full cost of naloxone, including dispensing fee.
Information for non-government organisations
Non-government health and community services can express interest with ACT Health in becoming an authorised alternative supplier (AAS) under the National Take Home Naloxone program. Contact ACT Health Directorate using the contact details below for more information.
ACT Health Directorate is only taking expressions of interest at this stage while approval processes are being determined.
Organisations and participating staff would be required to be appropriately trained and licenced under the Medicines, Poisons and Therapeutic Goods Act 2008 to possess and supply naloxone as a Schedule 3 medicine.
Information for general practitioners (GPs)
Most GPs can’t directly supply take home naloxone under the national program.
If you are a doctor working in an organisation, your organisation may be eligible to participate as an AAS. Contact ACT Health Directorate using the contact details below for more information.
If your organisation is not eligible to become an AAS, you can refer people to their local participating community pharmacy or service.
Naloxone is still available by prescription under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.
Opioid overdose and adverse reaction
Opioids include pharmaceutical opioids, such as medicines used for pain, and non-pharmaceutical opioids, such as heroin.
Opioids also include natural and semi-synthetic opioids (such as heroin, codeine, oxycodone and morphine) and synthetic opioids (such as tramadol, fentanyl and nitazenes).
Opioid overdose is a major cause of harm and death in Australia. In 2021, there were 1,704 drug-induced deaths in Australia and opioids were present in 962 (57%) of these deaths (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare).
Both pharmaceutical and non-pharmaceutical opioids can cause adverse effects and death.
Deaths can occur from usual or prescribed doses of opioids, particularly where they are used in combination with other drugs or medicines. Adverse reactions and overdose are often accidental.
More information on how to recognise and respond to an opioid overdose or adverse reaction can be found on the Australian Government website.
For more information, contact the Alcohol Tobacco and Other Drug Policy team at ACT Health by emailing ATODPolicy@act.gov.au.