In 2016 more than 1,600 Tennesseans died from drug overdoses. Doctors at Parkridge Medical Center said those statistics would be higher, if not for Narcan.

“I think the opioid addiction is greater than anyone could imagine. We rarely see a patient who is not on a prescribed opioid at this point,” said Dr. Ronald Tompkins with Parkridge Medical Center.

Dr. Tompkins has worked at Parkridge Medical Center for more than 10 years. Within that time he said something has drastically changed. “We probably use Narcan two or three times a week. We only use it when someone is severely sedated from the overdose.”

Naloxone, or Narcan, reverses the effects of an opioid overdose. Within minutes, a patient begins the withdrawal process. Because the need has become so widespread, pharmacies are now selling it over the counter.

Dr. Tompkins is afraid some people may abuse the convenience. “Not that you can abuse Narcan, but I believe the kids, the young people will probably think I can take all this if I want to and if it messes up, I can also take some Narcan.”

But he also understands the importance of why the drug was created in the first place. “Maybe somebody is on high dose pain killers for cancer or something. Maybe they need that safety net at home.”

It might take more than one dose for the Narcan to work. It depends on the type of opioid and how much the person consumed. Unlike opioids, a person cannot build up a tolerance to Narcan. “Most of them will wake up, cooperate with you for 10 or 20 minutes. Within a few minutes you've noticed they're pacing back and forth, getting their clothes on and getting ready to leave, no matter what you tell them.”

The price of Narcan can vary. It ranges in price from from $125 for two doses to as much as $3,750.

Some insurance policy's cover the cost.