UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Qualitative assessment of take-home naloxone program participant and law enforcement interactions in British Columbia Deonarine, Andrew; Amlani, Ashraf; Ambrose, Graham; Buxton, Jane


Background The British Columbia take-home naloxone (BCTHN) program has been in operation since 2012 and has resulted in the successful reversal of over 581 opioid overdoses. The study aims to explore BCTHN program participant perspectives about the program, barriers to participants contacting emergency services (calling “911”) during an overdose, and perspectives of law enforcement officials on naloxone administration by police officers. Methods Two focus groups and four individual interviews were conducted with BCTHN program participants; interviews with two law enforcement officials were also conducted. Qualitative analysis of all transcripts was performed. Results Positive themes about the BCTHN program from participants included easy to understand training, correcting misperceptions in the community, and positive interactions with emergency services. Potential barriers to contacting emergency services during an overdose include concerns about being arrested for outstanding warrants or for other illegal activities (such as drug possession) and confiscation of kits. Law enforcement officials noted that warrants were complex situational issues, kits would normally not be confiscated, and admitted arrests for drug possession or other activities may not serve the public good in an overdose situation. Law enforcement officials were concerned about legal liability and jurisdictional/authorization issues if naloxone administration privileges were expanded to police. Conclusions Program participants and law enforcement officials expressed differing perspectives about warrants, kit confiscation, and arrests. Facilitating communication between BCTHN program participants and other stakeholders may address some of the confusion and remove potential barriers to further improving program outcomes. Naloxone administration by law enforcement would require policies to address jurisdiction/authorization and liability issues.

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