Take-home naloxone program marks fifth year; stigma reduction next hurdle

Issue: BCMJ, vol. 59 , No. 8 , October 2017 , Pages 430-431 News

Since its launch in 2012, the Take-Home Naloxone program has reversed over 10 000 opioid overdoses, but the opioid crisis is far from over.


Since its launch in 2012, the Take-Home Naloxone program has reversed over 10 000 opioid overdoses, but the opioid crisis is far from over. Even with the programs in place, 780 people have died of illegal drug overdoses since the beginning of 2017. Currently, most overdoses are reversed by paramedics and other health care workers, as well as loved ones of people who use drugs. But the take-home kits rarely help people who use drugs on their own—a demographic that, according to the BC Centre for Disease Control, may account for as much as 50% of illegal drug overdoses. Among people who don’t survive overdoses, as many as two-thirds were using alone.

Experts at the BCCDC suggest that people hide their drug use because of the stigma associated with it, which makes them less likely to seek medical attention for their addiction and less likely to be attended by paramedics if they overdose because there is no one with them to call 911. To address one of the primary causes of stigma, addiction must be approached in a nonjudgmental way as a chronic disease characterized by a loss of control, craving, and compulsion to use a substance with negative consequences.

For more information about reducing stigma, review the BC Overdose Action Exchange Report, issued on 15 August 2017 and available online at www.bccdc.ca/resource-gallery/Documents/bccdc-overdose-action-screen.pdf.

For more information about harm reduction programs, including Take-Home Naloxone and overdose prevention sites, visit www.towardtheheart.com. Visit www.bcmhsus.ca to find out about mental health and substance use services available in BC. 

Number of overdoses reversed using a take-home naloxone kit:
•    36 in 2013
•    Over 4000 in 2016 (22 494 kits distributed in 2016)
•    Over 6000 so far in 2017 (25 388 kits distributed so far in 2017)

. Take-home naloxone program marks fifth year; stigma reduction next hurdle. BCMJ, Vol. 59, No. 8, October, 2017, Page(s) 430-431 - News.



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