Narcan Facts You Need to Master

Narcan NCLEX Pointers

Administering medications is the daily bread of nurses. As such, the NCLEX aims to prepare aspiring nurses for the big task that lies ahead. While the exam deals with a bevy of drugs, most questions focus on commonly-used drugs in the floor, such as Narcan.

0507_heroin-overdose to get the Top Medications on NCLEX RN exam

Indications for Use

Narcan, generically known as Naloxone Hydrochloride, is a central nervous system agent and a narcotic antagonist. It works by reversing the effects of opioids on the body, with signs that include sedation, respiratory depression and hypotension.

Because of these effects, Narcan is used to overturn respiratory depression caused by opioids such as Nalbuphine, Butorphanol, Propoxyphene and Pentazocine, to name a few. It is also used to diagnose suspected cases of opioid overdose.

Narcan is also used in reversing alcohol coma, enhancing circulation in refractory shock and treating schizophrenic/Alzheimer’s dementia.

Nursing Considerations

A good history is the foundation of effective medication administration. As such, prior to giving Narcan, make sure to perform a comprehensive history in order to detect allergy to narcotic antagonists and presence of narcotics addiction. Cardiovascular problems and lactation should be assessed in patients who you have to medicate as well.

A thorough physical examination should also be done prior to the administration of Naloxone Hydrochloride. Things you need to check are the following: vital signs, lung sounds, reflexes, pupil size and sweating.

For best results, store the drug at temperatures ranging from 59 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit. Avoid exposing it to excessive light. Additionally, make sure to use Narcan within 24 hours of opening.

NCLEX Nursing Interventions

Continuous monitoring is important in all patients taking medications, especially those prescribed with Narcan. The most important thing to remember is to ensure that the patient has an open airway. Provide artificial ventilation and vasopressor agents, and administer vasopressor agents as needed to combat narcotic overdose.


Also know that those receiving this drug might warrant repeated doses, depending on the time of the last drug administration, and the lifespan of the narcotic in the body. However, be careful in administering this drug with other medications especially if you use a Y-site. Note that it is highly incompatible with Amphotericin B Cholesteryl Complex.

If you have a patient receiving Narcan who has recently undergone a surgical or obstetrical procedure, monitor him/her for signs of profuse bleeding. Remember, use of Naloxone Hydrochloride has been associated with deranged bleeding times.

Important NCLEX Teaching Points

Health teaching is a vital role of nurses, as it helps the patient optimize the medication – and avoid any untoward adverse effects associated with it.

When administering Narcan, it is important that you tell the patient to immediately report feelings of tremulousness and profuse sweating.


NCLEX drugs might be overwhelming, but you can master them efficiently! Be able to do so by going through the NCLEX practice questions at

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