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Experiences with Take-home Naloxone

After Overdose Revival

NOTE: Quotes are presented word for word apart from minor editing for readability and clarity. Identifying details have been removed. Square brackets show text that has been added or, where ellipses (three dots) appear, removed. For example, ‘Since I actually participated in this Narcan [training], I’ve administered it to two people and it’s brought them around […] I wouldn’t think twice about [doing] it. Saving someone’s life is the main thing.’

The moments after giving take-home naloxone to revive someone from an overdose feature in many of the interviews conducted for this website. Like the experience of administering naloxone, these moments vary in a number of important ways.

For some participants, these are moments of confusion during which they have to explain to the revived person that an overdose had occurred. For others, these are moments when gratitude and appreciation are expressed.

Some participants describe strategies they have developed to reduce confusion and manage these complex situations carefully.

Overall, while experiences of overdose and take-home naloxone take shape in different ways at different times, the stories told here emphasise that despite the challenges an overdose and its aftermath present, our participants are more than willing to save lives that may otherwise be lost.


When Julia (F, mid 50s, NSW, non-prescribed opioids) noticed her friend was overdosing, she didn’t hesitate to respond. She managed to revive her friend but describes her friend as being ‘cranky’ afterwards. (Read her personal story here)

She lost consciousness and I tried to wake her up, and that wasn’t going to happen, you know. I had naloxone on me, so I gave her a couple of shots of that, and that was okay. She came back. [Did you have any hesitations administering it?] Absolutely not, no. I might have thought ‘arm or leg?’ and I went thigh. I gave her one, didn’t do much, gave her another one and that fixed it up. [She was] a bit cranky, but not cranky with me. I mean the thing is, she’d been drinking. I wasn’t aware of that, but she’d been drinking before she had the shot [of heroin], so she was probably still quite drunk, you know.

Some of our participants report developing strategies to manage overdose revival after-effects. Aware that people revived with naloxone can become confused, anxious or upset, some describe ways of helping recipients stay comfortable and calm.

Gabrielle (F, late 40s, Vic, non-prescribed opioids) speaks about using communication strategies to reduce the confusion of a man revived with naloxone. (Read her personal story here)

He started coming around slightly aggressive, but his girlfriend was with us and I had already asked her to start talking to him before he was coming to, so at least he could hear voices when he was coming around and wouldn’t be so confused. Because it’s the confusion that makes people agitated and angry […] a lot of the time they won’t admit to having overdosed, they’ll just say, ‘I was just really stoned,’ but when they’re blue and there’s no heartbeat and their girlfriend is crying in the corner, there’s not much you can do. You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do.

Also speaking about communication, Simone (F, late 40s, Vic, non-prescribed opioids) had to explain to her partner what had happened, as he didn’t realise he had overdosed. (Read her personal story here)

He didn’t really know what had happened to him, so I had to explain why I was telling him to sit down and relax […] Yeah, he was alert. He just didn’t know what had happened, so I had to explain to him that ‘you dropped, you dropped’ and I had to give him the naloxone to bring him through [it].

Lenny (M, early 40s, Vic, non-prescribed opioids) speaks about feeling very anxious and ‘freaking out’ when he had to administer naloxone. Luckily, he was assisted by others who were able to explain to the recipient what had happened. From Lenny’s perspective, this communication within the group helped make this otherwise very stressful event relatively calm. (Read his personal story here)

That was one of the most calmest [people] I’ve ever woken up. They knew where they were once they saw my head, and were, like, ‘What happened?’ Because I was, like, freaking out. So [he was] like, ‘What happened, what happened?’ But it was all easy, like smooth, like there was no coppers, there was no ambulance or anything like that. I just had two other people behind me, and they’re just telling him what happened, like exactly how he dropped, and then he sort of like looked over to me and said ‘thanks’ and I was like, ‘Hopefully you [would] have done the same thing for me’ and he goes, ‘yeah’. He didn’t know how to respond, sort of.

Recounting another moment of appreciation, Zippy (M, late 50s, Vic, non-prescribed opioids) tells the story of reviving a young woman who had overdosed at his house. On this occasion the young woman left the house quite soon after revival. However, Zippy describes later receiving a text message saying how grateful she was. (Read his personal story here)

Well, it was a bloke and his girlfriend, and they both came over to my place and, you know, I’d got them something, and I said to them, ‘Be careful, because I know you people have got a tendency to get too smashed.’ You know, they […] tend to have too much […] Anyway, this particular girl, she started just laying back on my bed and I said to my mate ‘Your girl don’t look like she’s doing too well there, mate.’ […] ‘She’s ODing, she’s not breathing,’ so I’ve raced to the fridge and just got the Narcan out and injected it into her arm through her jumper, and probably within about 30 seconds or something, she sort of opened her eyes and came to and, you know, she pretty much knew that I had injected her, because of the way we were all just looking at her […] Well, she couldn’t thank me enough. I got this text on my phone and it took me bloody five minutes to read it. She was going, ‘I’m really grateful that you looked after me and thank you for helping me out’ [and] ‘you are really kind and I’m ever so grateful that you helped me out’.