How Do I Get Free NARCAN® in Tennessee?

So, how do you find naloxone in Tennessee? We’ve ranked all possible options for getting free NARCAN® kits in TN from best to worst:

  1. Contact or visit a harm reduction program or syringe exchange in Tennessee and ask for free naloxone. Tennessee Harm Reduction, rural West Tennessee‘s only syringe exchange and harm reduction program. We offer two types of naloxone: name-brand NARCAN® nasal spray and intramuscular (IM) naloxone injection kits. We never require participants to attend training events before receiving naloxone.
  2. You can get free naloxone from Tennessee’s anti-drug coalitions and prevention coalitions. They may require you to attend a town-hall-style Narcan training first.
  3. You can also get naloxone from the state’s Regional Overdose Prevention Specialists, but only if you attend a naloxone training first. These town-hall-style meetings are lengthy (90+ minutes) and people who use drugs are unlikely to attend them. Recently, some ROPS have offered shorter training sessions over the phone, lasting around 20 minutes. Read more about Regional Overdose Prevention Specialists here.
  4. Buy Narcan at a pharmacy with a prescription — your insurance may require a prescription to cover Narcan, not to mention a co-pay.
  5. Buy Narcan at a pharmacy without a prescription. Fortunately, you do not need a prescription for Narcan in Tennessee since 2018. Unfortunately, this option isn’t free — be prepared to spend around $100 for a two-dose box of NARCAN®.
  6. If you don’t live near any harm reduction programs, syringe exchanges, or anti-drug coalitions and have trouble attending a Regional Overdose Prevention Specialist’s naloxone training, you can ask the New York City-based nonprofit NEXT Distro to mail you naloxone.

Here’s our list of all harm reduction programs and syringe exchanges in Tennessee. It’s frequently updated, easy to use, and includes every syringe services program’s website, phone number, address, and social media.

What Is NARCAN®?

Woman holding a box of Narcan nasal spray.
Matt Rourke/AP Photo

NARCAN® is a patented, name-brand formulation of naloxone, an opioid antagonist that is primarily used to reverse opioid overdose. It comes in 2 mg and 4 mg doses, although most people have never seen 2-mg NARCAN® in real life.

What Is the Difference Between Naloxone and NARCAN®?

NARCAN® is a patented, name-brand nasal spray version of naloxone. Naloxone is a medication used to reverse opioid overdose — it’s the active ingredient in NARCAN®.

We recommend not using the term “NARCAN®” unless you’re referring to the name-brand nasal spray. Even then, we prefer people use “naloxone” to refer to this life-saving drug, no matter which form you’re talking about.

Naloxone comes in several forms, though the most common form is injectable vials like this:

Vial of injectable naloxone solution (0.4 mg/mL).

What Is NARCAN® Used for?

Naloxone is used to reverse opioid overdose. It stops opioid overdose symptoms like loss of consciousness, extreme drowsiness, and respiratory depression.

Do You Need a Prescription to Buy NARCAN® in Tennessee?

NO, you don’t need a prescription to buy naloxone.

In 2018, Public Chapter 596 gave the Tennessee Department of Health’s CMO to implement a collaborative pharmacy practice agreement to dispense an opioid antagonist to people at risk of opioid overdose or to friends, family members, and associates of people at risk of opioid overdose without a prescription. Also known as a “standing order for naloxone,” the CPPA has been in place since 2018.

Is Naloxone a Controlled Substance?

Naloxone is not a controlled substance on the federal or state level.

Do You Need NARCAN® Training to Carry NARCAN® (Naloxone) in TN?

In practice, you do not need training to use or carry Narcan (naloxone) in Tennessee. Technically, however, to be protected from civil prosecution, you must receive basic instruction (the “training and self-assessment” linked below). You do not need to attend a formal, town hall-type naloxone training offered by the state. These trainings actually prevent people from getting free naloxone from the state’s Regional Overdose Prevention Specialists because they’re inconvenient and unwelcoming of people who use drugs.

Tennessee’s Training and Self-Assessment to Use NARCAN®

The state of Tennessee’s website has a pitiful training and self-assessment online. After watching a few minutes worth of poorly formatted videos, you take a quiz — easily the worst “self-assessment” I’ve ever seen — hosted on SurveyMonkey, of all places. 

In our first six months of operation, our organization recorded dozens of overdose reversals from our participants. In other words, this means the naloxone we gave out was used to save dozens of lives. None of the participants were formally trained to reverse opioid overdose.

Personally, I’ve used naloxone to reverse opioid overdose and had contact with police afterward. I was not asked for the self-assessment certificate.

What Is the Good Samaritan Law?

In 2014, Public Chapter 623 (Senate Bill No. 1631 in the 2014 legislative session) enacted the “Good Samaritan” law. It’s got four components, but here’s the skinny: it gives you civil immunity for using Narcan on someone you think is experiencing an opioid overdose. 

Also, the Addiction Treatment Act protects people who get help from emergency services for an opioid overdose from being charged with simple possession/casual exchange or possession of drug paraphernalia. 

Per law, you must take the state’s training and self-assessment training online to be protected under the Good Samaritan law. In practice, however, you will never be asked for proof of having completed the training.

How Much Does NARCAN® Cost?

As of March 2022, NARCAN® nasal spray costs anywhere from $119 to $180.

Although the FDA approved a generic in 2019, no generic actually existed until December 2021, when Sandoz launched its generic of NARCAN®. With discount cards, this generic form of NARCAN® nasal spray can cost as little as $50. It’s not clear whether you can actually find this generic in pharmacies yet.

How Can I Get NARCAN®?

We recommend not bothering with buying NARCAN® from a pharmacy and, instead, getting a free NARCAN® injection kit by finding a harm reduction program near you.

If you live near Jackson, Tennessee, you can get free naloxone from us. We give out NARCAN® and generic naloxone kits for free. Simply reach out to us by Facebook or by filling out our Contact Us page.

If you don’t live in West Tennessee, scroll back up to the top of this page and use any of the six options we’ve listed to find naloxone near you.