Overdose is a leading cause of death in the United States, especially among people who inject drugs (PWID). Improving naloxone access and carrying among PWID may offset recent increases in overdose mortality associated with the influx of synthetic opioids in the drug market. This study characterized prevalence and correlates of several naloxone outcomes among PWID.
During 2018, a survey to assess experience with naloxone was administered to 915 participants in the AIDS Linked to the IntraVenous Experience (ALIVE) study, an ongoing community-based observational cohort of people who currently inject or formerly injected drugs in Baltimore, Maryland. We examined the associations of naloxone outcomes (training, supply, use, and regular possession) with socio-demographic, substance use and healthcare utilization factors among PWID in order to characterize gaps in naloxone implementation among this high-risk population.
Median age was 56 years, 34% were female, 85% were African American, and 31% recently injected. In the past six months, 46% (n = 421) reported receiving training in overdose prevention, 38% (n = 346) had received a supply of naloxone, 9% (n = 85) had administered naloxone, and 9% (n = 82) reported usually carrying a supply of naloxone. Recent non-fatal overdose was not associated with any naloxone outcomes in adjusted analysis. Active opioid use (aOR = 2.10, 95% CI: 1.03, 4.28) and recent treatment of alcohol or substance use disorder (aOR = 2.01, 95% CI: 1.13, 3.56) were associated with regularly carrying naloxone.
Further work is needed to encourage PWID to carry and effectively use naloxone to decrease rates of fatal opioid overdose. While accessing treatment for substance use disorder was positively associated with carrying naloxone, EMS response to 911 calls for overdose, the emergency department, and syringe services programs may be settings in which naloxone access and carrying could be encouraged among PWID.