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Healthcare Professionals & First Responders

Recognizing an overdose | Naloxone (Narcan) | Fentanyl Safety | INSPECT | Opioid Prescribing | Patient Education | Safe Storage & Disposal

First Responders

Recognizing opioid overdose.

During an opioid overdose, the drug affects receptors in the brain, which interrupts the body’s impulse to breathe.

Breathing slows dangerously or stops. Reversing this process is crucial because when the body is deprived of oxygen, brain damage or death can occur. Quickly recognizing the signs of an opioid overdose and acting appropriately could be the difference between life and death.

Signs of an opioid overdose include:

Patient will not wake up or respond to your voice or touch.

Breathing is very slow, irregular or has stopped

The patient’s pupils are very small — also known as “pinpoint pupils”.

Fingernails and lips are turning blue or purple.

Slow heartbeat and/or low blood pressure.


Prescribing Naloxone (Narcan®) to prevent opioid overdose and death.

To become a Naloxone distributor join the optIN program through ISDH. There were 347 registered entities during 2016, and together, they dispensed more than 3,600 naloxone kits.

How does Naloxone work?

Naloxone is a drug that reverses the effects of opioids and can be administered when a person shows symptoms of an overdose. When administered, a person typically shows a response to the naloxone within five minutes, but may require additional doses depending on the type and amount of opioids in his or her system. Naloxone is NOT a substitute for medical attention and those who administer it are required to call 911. To learn more, click here.

Naloxone will not affect someone who has not ingested opioids. Individuals who are using opioids may experience withdrawal symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, confusion, agitation or combativeness when given naloxone.

Administering Naloxone (Narcan®) to prevent opioid overdose and death.

Naloxone is available to anyone. Entities registered on the optIN site can also offer naloxone to people who may be at risk of an overdose or those who are close to them. See training opportunities…

Fentanyl Safety Recommendations for First Responders

Protect Yourself

The importance of INSPECT

INSPECT was designed to serve as a tool to address the problem of prescription drug abuse and diversion in Indiana.

An INSPECT report summarizes the controlled substances a patient has been prescribed, the practitioner who prescribed them and the dispensing pharmacy where the patient obtained them.

By compiling controlled substance information into a single, online database, INSPECT performs two critical functions:

1. Maintains a clearinghouse of patient information for health care professionals, and

2. Provides an important investigative tool for law enforcement.

INSPECT seeks to enhance the ability of prescribers such as physicians, advanced practice nurses, physicians assistants and dispensers as they perform critical public health functions. The program does this while maintaining the security of Hoosiers’ important prescription information.

To learn more visit here.


Safely prescribing and administering prescription opioids.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Improving the way opioids are prescribed through clinical practice guidelines can ensure patients have access to safer, more effective chronic pain treatment while reducing the number of people who misuse, abuse, or overdose from these drugs.”

Please refer to Indiana's Opioid Prescribing Guidelines and Final Rule to learn the proper procedures and best practices for prescribing opioid medications.

Also, visit the American Hospital Association's Opioid Toolkit to learn more about how to address the epidemic.

Patient education

Prescription opioids can help with some types of pain in the short term, but have serious risks. Before prescribing opioid medications to your patients, healthcare providers should:

Talk to your patient about any and all side effects and concerns.

Fully discuss pain treatment options, including ones that do not involve prescription drugs.

Discuss all of the risks and benefits of taking prescription opioids.

Remind your patient to never take opioids in greater amounts or more often than prescribed.

Work with your patient to create a plan on how to manage pain, and consider non-opioid options.

Remind your patients to store all opioid pain relievers in a safe place and out of reach of others.


Educating patients about prescription opioids.

The prescribing physician should have already had a conversation about the risks of opioids, but pharmacists should emphasize the same points:

Talk to the patient about any and all side effects and concerns.

Discuss all of the risks and benefits of taking prescription opioids.

Remind the patient to never take opioids in greater amounts or more often than prescribed.

Remind the patient to store all opioid pain relievers in a safe place and out of reach of others.

Safe storage & disposal of opioids and other prescription medications.

Keep medicine in a cool, dry place, out of the reach of children.

Lock up any medicine that is at risk for being abused in a cabinet, drawer, or medicine safe.

Always store medicine in its original container — the label on the bottle provides important information about the medicine.

Don’t store medicine in a bathroom medicine cabinet where humidity and temperature changes can cause damage.

Don’t share prescription medicine. A medicine that works for one person may cause harm — even death — to someone else, even if symptoms are similar.