Confirmation of the effectiveness of naloxone availability in forestalling opioid overdose deaths, a crowdfunded study at University of Alabama, Birmingham reports successfully preventing nine fatalities among its study population. Karen Cropsey, PhD, associate professor in the UAB Department of Psychiatry, commented, “That’s nine lives saved, and nine people who hopefully can go on to receive medical treatment for their substance abuse and addiction issues. It’s not every day that we do a study that directly saves someone’s life. We do studies on smoking that we hope will someday prevent or delay cancer or lung disease, but here we have an intervention that can be truly lifesaving.” The UAB initiative was the first in Alabama to provide naloxone kits directly to family and friends of at-risk opioid users, and has distributed more than 100 kits since the project began in November 2015.
The project raised $11,500 to purchase naloxone kits. Team members identified and trained nonmedical family and friends of at risk users in the recognition of overdose and administration of the naloxone. National statistics have associated naloxone availability with a 43% drop in opioid overdose fatalities, according to Dr. Cropsey. Birmingham and nearby counties have seen these deaths escalate from 12 reported in 2010 to 137 in 2014. She summarized that the biggest challenge to broader success will lie in responder recruitment and training, to make the best use of kits that are distributed.
Read more about the initiative, with links to additional news stories here.