Overdoses among friends: drug users are willing to administer naloxone to others

J Subst Abuse Treat. 2006 Mar;30(2):129-33. doi: 10.1016/j.jsat.2005.05.010.


The distribution of naloxone to heroin users is a suggested intervention to reduce overdose and death rates. However, the level of willingness of drug users to administer this medication to others is unclear. Drug users recruited from the community between January 2002 and January 2004 completed a structured interview that assessed topics including drug use, overdose history, and attitudes toward using overdose remedies to assist others. Of the 329 drug users, 82% had used heroin and 64.3% reported that they had injected drugs. Nearly two thirds (64.6%) said that they had witnessed a drug overdose and more than one third (34.6%) had experienced an accidental drug overdose. Most participants (88.5%) said that they would be willing to administer a medication to another drug user in the event of an overdose. Participants who had used heroin (p = .024), had injected drugs (p = .022), had witnessed a drug overdose (p = .001), or had a history of one or more accidental drug overdoses (p = .009) were significantly more willing to treat a companion who had overdosed. Drug users were willing to use naloxone in the event of a friend's overdose. Specific drug use and overdose histories were associated with the greatest willingness to administer naloxone.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cocaine / adverse effects*
  • Cocaine / pharmacokinetics
  • Cocaine-Related Disorders / rehabilitation*
  • Drug Overdose
  • Female
  • Friends*
  • Helping Behavior*
  • Heroin / adverse effects*
  • Heroin / pharmacokinetics
  • Heroin Dependence / rehabilitation*
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Male
  • Naloxone / therapeutic use*
  • Narcotic Antagonists / therapeutic use*
  • Psychotic Disorders / diagnosis
  • Psychotic Disorders / epidemiology


  • Narcotic Antagonists
  • Naloxone
  • Heroin
  • Cocaine