A pilot study of an emergency department's overdose education and naloxone distribution program
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Opioid overdoses are increasing and several efforts are being made to reduce this problem. One potential solution is overdose education and naloxone distribution. Project ASSERT began distributing naloxone in conjunction with its overdose education program in 2009. Project ASSERT’s overdose education and naloxone distribution program trained opioid users in recognition, risk factors, and response to overdoses, as well as how to use nasal naloxone kits. Opioid users that had received overdose education only were compared with those that received overdose education and naloxone kits. The goal was to determine if there were any differences in occurrence of nonfatal overdoses, overdose response, illicit opioid use, and opioid agonist treatment. This retrospective study involved phone-surveying patients from a hospital billing list. It was obtained through Project ASSERT and contained the names of patients that had received overdose education only or overdose education and naloxone distribution from January 2011 to February 2012. Questions were asked about the respondents’ naloxone kits, overdose history since their Project ASSERT visit, response to the last witnessed overdose, 30-day substance use, and overdose risk knowledge. Chi-square tests were used to compare the groups. 51 out of 415 eligible were successfully surveyed from March 2012 to October 2012. The surveys occurred on average 11.8 months after their Project ASSERT visit. 73% (37) had naloxone kits and most kept them where they lived (12). There were 9 successful overdose reversals reported. 76% (39) of the respondents did not overdose in the intervening period. There was no statistical difference between the two groups in overdose occurrence, 19% trained with naloxone versus 29% trained without naloxone (p=0.45). 16 out of 19 (84%) of the naloxone group properly responded to an overdose, whereas 3 out of 8 (38%) of those trained without naloxone properly responded (p=.03). There was no statistical difference in illicit opioid use (p=1.0) and opioid agonist treatment (p=.53), 36% of the group trained with naloxone versus 35% of the group trained without naloxone, and 49% of those trained with naloxone versus 36% of those trained without naloxone, respectively. In studying the association between overdose education only and overdose education and naloxone distribution, it was found that there is not an increase in overdose and illicit opioid use. There also is no reduction in seeking for opioid agonist treatment. However, it was found that having naloxone kits does increase proper response to overdose. This is a promising result that could have an impact in reducing opioid overdose deaths.
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