Home > Can we really say naloxone reduces the overall rate of overdose deaths?

Drug and Alcohol Findings. (2018) Can we really say naloxone reduces the overall rate of overdose deaths? London: Drug and Alcohol Findings. Drug and Alcohol Findings Research Analysis

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How confident can we be that take-home naloxone programmes are effective without the ‘gold standard’ randomised trial? Judged against nine criteria for establishing the presumption of causality, evidence that the provision of naloxone reduces overdose-related deaths among opioid users.


Key points from summary and commentary

  • The featured review assessed the impact of take-home naloxone programmes using the nine Bradford Hill criteria – a well-established method for establishing the likelihood of a ‘cause and effect’ relationship between an intervention and an outcome where it is not possible to allocate participants at random to an intervention versus a comparator.
  • This method demonstrated that provision of the overdose antidote naloxone to people who are not healthcare workers is likely to be an effective way of preventing overdose-related deaths.
  • Take-home naloxone has led to improved survival rates among programme participants and reduced heroin overdose mortality rates in the community, and is accompanied by only a low rate of adverse events. 
Item Type:Evidence resource
Publication Type:Review
Drug Type:Opioid
Intervention Type:AOD disorder harm reduction
Source:Drug and Alcohol Findings
Date:December 2018
Publisher:Drug and Alcohol Findings
Corporate Creators:Drug and Alcohol Findings
Place of Publication:London
Related URLs:
Subjects:B Substances > Opioids (opiates) > Opioid product > Naloxone
G Health and disease > Substance use disorder > Drug use > Drug intoxication > Poisoning (overdose)
J Health care, prevention and rehabilitation > Substance use prevention > Substance use harm reduction
P Demography, epidemiology, and history > Population dynamics > Substance related mortality / death

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