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What is Narcan, the powerful drug that revived Demi Lovato after her reported overdose?

Elise Solé
Demi Lovato was treated with a powerful drug called Narcan after a reported drug overdose. (Photo: Getty Images)

Demi Lovato is “stable” after being treated for a reported drug overdose with the medicine Narcan, which reverses the effects of opioids. 

TMZ reported that paramedics discovered the 25-year-old singer unconscious at her Hollywood Hills home around noon on Tuesday and that Lovato was administered Narcan before being rushed by ambulance to a Los Angeles hospital. A source also told People that Lovato is currently “stable.”

According to People, the Los Angeles Fire Department “transported a 25-year-old female patient to a local hospital,” and fire and police squads “responded to a medical emergency.” A source close to Lovato told People that heroin was not the cause of the overdose; law enforcement, however, told TMZ that it was an apparent heroin overdose.

In an October 2017 documentary Demi Lovato: Simply Complicated, Lovato revealed she had struggled with an eating disorder and drug-and-alcohol addictions, according to CNN. In June, she released a song “Sober” that included the lyrics “I’m so sorry, I’m not sober anymore.” 

Narcan, the brand name for Naloxone, is a medication administered to those who have overdosed on narcotics like heroin or heroin cut with opioids such as fentanyl. In 2016, according to CNN, toxicology reports for Prince revealed he had died from an accidental overdose of fentanyl.

Demi Lovato was treated for a reported drug overdose. (Photo: Getty Images)

“Back in the 1970s, heroin was pure and people knew how it affected their bodies — over the past three years, we’re seeing more cases of heroin laced with fentanyl,” Cali Estes,  founder of The Addictions Academy, tells Yahoo Lifestyle.

Narcan is typically given by a nasal drip and as a second option, an IV-injection. “It works instantly, almost like a smelling salt, returning the body to a pre-opiate state,” says Estes. “However, its use is controversial because EMTs aren’t required to give it a certain number of times — some try twice, others three times, and that makes a difference in whether someone lives or dies.”

The drug doesn’t always work — sometimes help arrives too late or people  have too many drugs in their system. However, even when Narcan is effective, if a person uses drugs shortly afterward, the combination can result in death.

According to National Public Radio, Narcan is readily accessible, available in over-the-counter doses at Walgreens and CVS.

As for Lovato, she is “stable and alert and breathing,” according to NBC News.

“However, being stable doesn’t mean a user will stay sober,” says Estes. “There’s likely therapy ahead.”

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