CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- A doctor at UVA Health is happy to see that Narcan, a medication used to combat opioid overdoses, is now available over the counter.

"I think that it is important that we have it widely available. It’s safe to use, it can be administered by people without medical training, and it helps bystanders provide that first act of resuscitation when they see someone who has an opioid overdose," said Dr. Bhavana Yalamuru, a UVA Health anesthesiologist.

Narcan, which came out in 2015, is a nasal spray version of naloxone, an injectable drug which has been available since the 1970s.

Narcan combats the effects of drugs like morphine or heroin by binding to receptors and restoring breathing. It should be used when someone is experiencing signs of opioid overdose such as slow breathing and heart rate, small and constricted pupils, paleness or vomiting. It's short-acting, so calling for medical help is still needed after it is administered.

Narcan is now available at places like CVS, Walgreens, and Rite Aid.