Did you know that college-aged people are the most likely to abuse prescription drugs, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)

College is a time that’s full of stress and expectations. People aged 18 to 25 years old report using narcotics to help them: 

  • Sleep and relax
  • Have a good time with friends
  • Relieve pain
  • Deal with problems
  • Get high

The problem is prescription opioids are deadly. An overdose can cause respiratory depression, and without medical help, you can die from an overdose in minutes. 

In 2014, over 1,700 college-aged people died from drug overdoses. That’s almost 5 deaths daily for the entire year, and it’s an increase of 400% since 1999. 

More recently, 28% of college-aged adults report prescription drug abuse. 

That’s alarming to many campuses, and they’re putting measures into place to help students find naloxone access. 

What Is Naloxone?

Naloxone, or Narcan, is a medication that reverses the effects of an opioid overdose. It usually works within seconds and can stop respiratory depression. This critical medication saves thousands of lives each year. 

If you’re on campus, it’s almost a given that you know someone who’s addicted to opioids. Whether you use yourself or not, you can save a life by having naloxone and knowing how to use it. If you use or you know people who do, then it’s vital to have naloxone access. 

Here’s how to find Narcan in your college town: 

Can You Get Naloxone From a Counseling Center?

Your campus counseling center won’t have Narcan on hand, but they will be able to direct you to places in the community where you can find it. 

Right now, naloxone has to be prescribed by a doctor or a pharmacist in most areas. That might change in the near future, as it’s expected to become over-the-counter in 2020. 

If your counseling center doesn’t have an MD on hand, then they’ll have to refer you somewhere else to get the medication. 

Can You Get Naloxone From a Health Center?

Your campus health center is more likely to have Narcan on hand. Because Narcan needs to be prescribed by a doctor, you’ll need an appointment. 

Not all health centers carry Narcan as part of their regular pharmacy stock. Call ahead to find out if your health center does. If not, they’ll be able to refer you to a community pharmacy to pick up Narcan. 

Where Do You Get Naloxone at College?

If your campus has a collegiate recovery program (CRP), then they may be able to provide Narcan or help you get it. 

Many CRPs provide stigma-free harm reduction information, including naloxone kits that include: 

  • A naloxone dose
  • Injection equipment, if applicable
  • Information about how to use naloxone
  • Information on where to get more Narcan if you need it again

You don’t always need to be a member of the CRP to benefit from programs such as Narcan access. Stop by your CRP house to ask any questions you have about their programs. Still, a CRP is a beneficial tool that you should consider if you’re in recovery from opioids. 

Also, look out for campus events promoting recovery and harm reduction. If your campus has events like this, they’re a great place to learn about Narcan access and even receive free Narcan. 

If you can’t find Narcan on campus, community pharmacies will carry it. You can stop at any major pharmacy such as CVS, Walgreens, and Rite-Aid, all of which carry the medication and provide an on-the-spot prescription. 

Where Can You Learn to Use Naloxone at College?

Having Narcan isn’t all that helpful if you have no idea how to use it in a stressful situation. That’s why it’s so important that you learn how to use Narcan before you need it. 

Any resource that can offer you Narcan on campus will provide you with the education that you need to use it. 

Many campus organizations partner with Get Naloxone Now, an online resource that provides training for naloxone use. Even if your school doesn’t partner with them, you can pay $10 to take the online training and receive a certificate of completion. 

How Much Does Naloxone Cost?

The cost of naloxone depends on whether it’s the generic or brand-name Narcan. 

Generic naloxone can cost anywhere from $20 to $40 per dose. Brand-name Narcan costs $130 to $140 for a 2-dose kit.

If you can’t afford brand-name Narcan, you shouldn’t hesitate to get generic naloxone. Both types work exactly the same. Your doctor or pharmacist will be happy to provide you with the generic if you ask for it. 

Ask your pharmacist if you’re struggling to pay for Narcan. Many pharmacies offer coupons or discounts to people without insurance.  

Can You Get Free Naloxone?

If you have health insurance that covers Narcan, you could have a $0 copay. 

Otherwise, you can get free naloxone from many community or campus groups that promote recovery and addiction services. 

Check with your local CRP chapter for more information. You can also check with your college town’s public health office. 

Who Needs Naloxone at College?

Anyone who uses opioids or hangs out with people who do should have Narcan on hand. Opioid abuse is common on college campuses, especially prescription narcotics. 

In 2014, over 4,000 young people died from opioid overdoses. Every one of those overdoses could have been prevented by having Narcan available on site. 

Having Narcan and knowing how to use it could allow you to save a life. Don’t let yourself or your friends become another statistic due to overdose. There are resources available to help you get Narcan and learn how to use it, so don’t waste another moment. 


  1. Understanding Naloxone – Harm Reduction Coalition
  2. Learn how to respond to an overdose emergency | GetNaloxone Now
  3. Abuse of Prescription (Rx) Drugs Affects Young Adults Most
  4. Prescription drug misuse among college students
  5. Introducing Harm Reduction in Collegiate Recovery – Association of Recovery in Higher Education

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