SHIFT - SHIFTovation

Operation Naloxone

Operation Naloxone aims to educate and empower the UT Austin community to reduce opioid overdoses. This project responds to the opioid epidemic by addressing knowledge gaps that exist in Texas communities regarding overdose prevention and making sure that these communities are equipped with resources, including naloxone, to prevent overdoses and overdose deaths. It was established in 2016 through the College of Pharmacy and the Steve Hicks School of Social Work and partnered with SHIFT in 2019 as one of the first SHIFTovation Awards. ON continues to expand the important work of access, distribution, and educational outreach to our UT Austin community.

What is naloxone?

Naloxone is an opioid antagonist. It rapidly reverses the effects of an opioid overdose by blocking the opioid-receptors. It is not a controlled substance and cannot cause harm, even if the person is not experiencing an opioid overdose. Naloxone should be effective for 30-90 minutes. Naloxone is an important medical tool – just like an EpiPen is a life-saving tool for those with severe allergies.

Should I carry naloxone?

Sometimes it can be difficult to imagine how one person can have an impact on the culture of substance use – but you can! By carrying naloxone and learning the right way to administer it to someone having an opioid overdose, you have the potential to save a life. Even if you don’t personally know anyone using opioids, you may find yourself in a situation where having naloxone on hand could make a huge difference. By showing that you care and taking the time to learn, you’re helping to raise awareness about how important it is for each of us to play a part in shifting the culture of substance use.

How do I use naloxone?

Okay, so now you know what naloxone is, and why it’s so important – but how do you actually use it on someone experiencing an opioid overdose? Great question – luckily, Operation Naloxone at UT provides free trainings for students, staff, and faculty. Email for more information. Request an Operation Naloxone training.

How do you administer the nasal spray version of naloxone (Narcan)?

  • Open the Narcan package, place the nozzle in the person’s nostril and press the plunger.
  • View the CDC video on how to administer Narcan.
Where can I find naloxone?
  • Naloxone is available for distribution to all students, faculty, and staff at the Perry-Casteneda Library security front desk, the Longhorn Wellness Center (SSB 1.106), and the Center for Students in Recovery (Belmont 222).
  • Naloxone is available for emergency access at all residence hall front desks, Sid Richardson Library, the Life Sciences Library, the Perry-Casteneda Library, and through UTPD.
  • Many pharmacies dispense naloxone without a prescription, but there may be a copay depending on the insurer. You can call your insurance provider in advance to learn more about the potential copay cost.
  • In Texas, you can request free naloxone via mail at
  • Map of free naloxone access sites in Austin.
What should I do after calling for help and responding to someone having an overdose?

Waking up from an overdose can be disorienting and confusing. Give the person some space, speak calmly to them, and avoid shouting or shaming language. Try to stay with the person for 90 minutes and wait for emergency medical help to arrive, as naloxone is effective for 30-90 minutes.

After reversing an overdose, the person helping may have put their own experience and feelings to the side due to the crisis situation and may only become aware of complicated feelings or trauma afterwards. Not everyone who reverses an overdose experiences trauma, and both having a neutral or negative experience is normal. If someone finds they want to talk to another person about their experience, there are resources for doing so both on and off campus

If you are the person who has experience an overdose, or the person who called for help, there are several campus and community resources that are available to you:

  • The Center for Students in Recovery
    Provides a safe space and supportive community for students in recovery or seeking recovery from addiction of any kind. Participation is completely voluntary and there is no barrier to entry. Students at any stage of recovery and at any point in their academic journeys are welcome.
  • The Texas Harm Reduction Alliance
    Offers overdose prevention services. Their mobile-and-street-based outreach team serves people at risk of opioid overdose in the metropolitan Austin area.
  • Communities for Recovery & Recovery ATX
    Offers support groups, Narcan training, peer recovery training, and wellness activities.
  • Never Use Alone Hotline: 800-484-3731
    An operator will stay on the line with you while you use. If you stop responding after using, the operator will notify emergency services of an “unresponsive person” at your location.
  • TxCOPE
    Anonymous digital tool designed to improve community overdose response efforts.
  • Peer Support Groups
  • The CMHC Substance Use Support Team
    Has experience to support students through the aftermath of reversing an overdose.
  • The UT Employee Assistance Program
    Can offer support for faculty and staff.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What are opioids?

    Opioids are drugs that act on the opioid-receptors in your brain to produce pain-relieving and euphoric effects. Examples of opioids include:

    • Heroin
    • Morphine
    • Hydrocodone (Vicodin)
    • Oxycodone (OxyContin)
    • Fentanyl

    Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is made in a lab. It is 100x more potent than morphine, and causes more overdoses because it is difficult to be sure of just how much Fentanyl is present.

  • What is the difference between naloxone and Narcan?

    Narcan is the brand name, nasal spray form of naloxone.

  • Can you overdose by touching or being near fentanyl?

    No, you cannot overdose by touching or being in the vicinity of fentanyl. Fentanyl’s chemical structure and properties mean it doesn’t pass through the skin without additives to help it along. Because fentanyl is a heavy molecule, it doesn’t linger in the air and does not pose an accidental inhalation risk.

  • What are the signs and symptoms of an opioid overdose?
    • Unresponsiveness or unconsciousness
    • Slow, shallow or stopped breathing
    • De-oxygenated skin; blue, gray, ashy lips or fingernails
    • Cold or clammy skin
    • Very small, pinpoint pupils
    • Snoring deeply, choking, or gurgling sounds
  • What are the steps to take if I suspect someone is experiencing an opioid overdose?
    1. Check the person for symptoms of overdose
      • Try to wake the person up
      • Shake them lightly and shout
      • If no response, grind your knuckles into their breast bone for 5 to 10 seconds.
    2. Call 911
      • Remember: the effects of naloxone only last 30-90 minutes, so the person will still need medical attention.
      • UT has an amnesty policy that applies to on-campus incidents if you are calling for help for yourself or someone in need.
    3. Administer naloxone
      • Open the Narcan package, place the nozzle in the person’s nostril and press the plunger.
    4. Check for breathing
      • If they are not breathing, give CPR or provide rescue breaths if you are trained and comfortable.
      • To give rescue breaths: Tilt their head back, open their mouth, and pinch their nose shut. Start with 1-2 breaths, then give 1 breath every 5 seconds until help arrives.
    5. Stay with the person
      • When they wake up, they will likely be confused. Explain calmly what happened and that you are there to help. Do not yell at or berate them.
      • If the person does not respond to the initial dose after 3-5 minutes, it is okay to administer another.
      • If you have to step away and the person is still unconscious, turn them on their side to prevent choking.
  • Can you overdose on naloxone?

    No, naloxone is not toxic, even in individuals who are not experiencing an opioid overdose. However, those with physical dependence on opioids may experience withdrawal symptoms after receiving a dose.

  • Can I use expired Narcan?

    Naloxone is still safe to use after the expiration date printed on the box or vial. Over time, naloxone will gradually become less potent. This could eventually render it ineffective. Store naloxone in a cool, dry place without direct sunlight to prolong its efficiency.

    On 1/24/24, the FDA announced: “Emergent BioSolutions is extending the shelf-life of newly manufactured NARCAN (naloxone hydrochloride) 4 milligram (mg) Nasal Spray products from 3-years to 4-years. This action was taken at the request of the FDA and is the latest of multiple steps the Agency has recently taken to prevent overdoses and reduce overdose-related deaths by expanding access to naloxone and other overdose reversal agents."

  • Are there any campus resources for addiction or recovery?

    The Center for Students in Recovery provides a safe space and supportive community for students in recovery or seeking recovery from addiction of any kind. Participation is completely voluntary and there is no barrier to entry. Students at any stage of recovery and at any point in their academic journeys are welcome.

  • Where can I learn more about harm reduction for substance use?
    • You can visit the SHIFT resource page for more tips on safer use and harm reduction.
    • You can visit the Healthyhorns Having Fun & Playing It Safe webpage for more tips on safer use.
    • You can check out the Texas Harm Reduction Alliance for more information and local resources related to safer use.
    • TxCOPE, or Texans Connecting Overdose Prevention Efforts, is a set of tools built for communities to improve overdose response and prevention efforts. If you or someone you know has experienced an opioid overdose, you can report it using TxCOPE – the information you give is for public health purposes only, and will not be shared with police or other law enforcement agencies.
  • How can I connect with SHIFT and Operation Naloxone?

Wondering how you might connect with SHIFT? Well, howdy, partner!

The SHIFT Office
UT Austin
Student Services Building
100 W Dean Keeton Street

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