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What is Project DAWN?

Project DAWN (Deaths Avoided With Naloxone) is a network of opioid overdose education and naloxone distribution programs (OENDP) coordinated by the Ohio Department of Health. Visit the What is Naloxone page for more information on the overdose reversal medication.

Project DAWN is named in memory of Leslie Dawn Cooper, who struggled with substance use disorder for many years before dying from a witnessed opioid overdose on Oct. 3, 2009. The first Project DAWN site was established in Leslie’s hometown of Portsmouth, Ohio, in 2012. Since then, Project DAWN has expanded to a collective of more than 370 naloxone distribution sites that cover around 75 of Ohio’s 88 counties.

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Naloxone (commonly known as NARCAN®) is a medication that can reverse an overdose caused by an opioid drug (heroin, illicit fentanyl, or prescription pain medications). When administered during an overdose, naloxone blocks the effects of opioids on the brain and quickly restores breathing. Naloxone has been used safely by emergency medical professionals for more than 40 years and has only one critical function: to prevent overdose death by reversing the effects of opioids. Naloxone is a safe, non-controlled drug and has no potential for abuse.

If naloxone is given to a person who is not experiencing an opioid overdose, it is harmless. If naloxone is administered to a person who is dependent on opioids, it will produce withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal, although uncomfortable, is not life-threatening.

Naloxone can be administered by trained laypersons, which can be helpful if a friend, family member, or other bystander witnesses a person overdosing.

Naloxone can be administered in three ways:

  • Intranasal spray (i.e., NARCAN®).

  • Intramuscular/subcutaneous (i.e., Evzio®).

  • Intravenous injection.

What is Naloxone?