Home > Guidance on take-home naloxone distribution and use by community overdose responders in Canada.

Ferguson, Max and Rittenbach, Katherine and Leece, Pamela and Adams, Alison and Ali, Farihah and Elton-Marshall, Tara and Burmeister, Charlene and Brothers, Thomas D and Medley, Andrea and Choisil, Paul and Strike, Carol and Ng, Justin and Lorenzetti, Diane L and Gallant, Kat and Buxton, Jane A (2023) Guidance on take-home naloxone distribution and use by community overdose responders in Canada. CMAJ, 195, (33), E1112 - E1123. https://doi.org/10.1503/cmaj.230128.

External website: https://www.cmaj.ca/content/195/33/E1112

BACKGROUND The increasing toxicity of opioids in the unregulated drug market has led to escalating numbers of overdoses in Canada and worldwide; take home naloxone (THN) is an evidence-based intervention that distributes kits containing naloxone to people in the community who may witness an overdose. The purpose of this guidance is to provide policy recommendations for territorial, provincial and federal THN programs, using evidence from scientific and grey literature and community evidence that reflects 11 years of THN distribution in Canada.

METHODS The Naloxone Guidance Development Group - a multidisciplinary team including people with lived and living experience and expertise of drug use - used the Appraisal of Guidelines for Research & Evaluation (AGREE II) instrument to inform development of this guidance. We considered published evidence identified through systematic reviews of all literature types, along with community evidence and expertise, to generate recommendations between December 2021 and September 2022. We solicited feedback on preliminary recommendations through an External Review Committee and a public input process. The project was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research through the Canadian Research Initiative in Substance Misuse. We used the Guideline International Network principles for managing competing interests.

RECOMMENDATIONS Existing evidence from the literature on THN was of low quality. We incorporated evidence from scientific and grey literature, and community expertise to develop our recommendations. These were in 3 areas: routes of naloxone administration, THN kit contents and overdose response. Take-home naloxone programs should offer the choice of both intramuscular and intranasal formulations of naloxone in THN kits. Recommended kit contents include naloxone, a naloxone delivery device, personal protective equipment, instructions and a carrying case. Trained community overdose responders should prioritize rescue breathing in the case of respiratory depression, and conventional cardiopulmonary resuscitation in the case of cardiac arrest, among other interventions.

INTERPRETATION This guidance development project provides direction for THN programs in Canada in the context of limited published evidence, with recommendations developed in collaboration with diverse stakeholders.

Item Type
Publication Type
International, Open Access, Article
Drug Type
Intervention Type
Treatment method, Harm reduction
August 2023
Identification #
CMA Joule

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