Characteristics of an Overdose Prevention, Response, and Naloxone Distribution Program in Pittsburgh and Allegheny County, Pennsylvania
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Prevention Point Pittsburgh (PPP) is a public health advocacy organization that operates Allegheny County’s only needle exchange program. In 2002, PPP implemented an Overdose Prevention Program (OPP) in response to an increase in heroin-related and opioid-related overdose fatalities in the region. In 2005, the OPP augmented overdose prevention and response trainings to include naloxone training and prescription. The objective of our study is to describe the experiences of 426 individuals who participated in the OPP between July 1, 2005, and December 31, 2008. Of these, 89 individuals reported administering naloxone in response to an overdose in a total of 249 separate overdose episodes. Of these 249 overdose episodes in which naloxone was administered, participants reported 96% were reversed. The data support findings from a growing body of research on similar programs in other cities. Community-based OPPs that equip drug users with skills to identify and respond to an overdose and prescribe naloxone can help users and their peers prevent and reverse potentially fatal overdoses without significant adverse consequences.
KeywordsOpioids Naloxone prescription Overdose prevention Harm reduction Substance use Pittsburgh
The authors would like to thank Nabarun Dasgupta of the University of North Carolina and Project Lazarus for providing detailed comments on earlier drafts of this manuscript. We would also like to thank the many volunteers and participants involved in PPP’s OPP. Partial funding for Dr. Bennett was provided by the Behavioral Sciences Training in Drug Abuse Research Program sponsored by the Public Health Solutions of New York City and the National Development and Research Institutes, Inc. (NDRI), with funding from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (T32 DA07233).
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