Background: In August 2012, the British Columbia Take Home Naloxone (BCTHN) program was introduced to help to reduce opioid overdose and its consequences. This study evaluates the BCTHN program, identifying the successes and challenges of implementing a provincial program in Canada.
Methods: In this cross-sectional study, we reviewed the records of the BCTHN administrative program to report on program outcomes (participation and overdose reversals). Focus groups and individual interviews were conducted with 40 clients in Vancouver; 12 individual interviews were completed with service providers, police officers and parents of people who use opioids from both the Vancouver and Interior regions of British Columbia. Qualitative data were analyzed using content analysis and a qualitative descriptive approach.
Results: As of March 13, 2014, the BCTHN program had been implemented at 40 sites, trained 1318 participants in overdose prevention, recognition and response, distributed 836 kits to clients and received reports of 85 overdose reversals. Stakeholders were supportive of the program, and clients reported greater confidence in response to overdose. Service providers found the program training materials easy to use and that training increased client engagement. Some of the challenges included difficulty in identifying physician willing to prescribe, recruitment of some at-risk populations (e.g., long-term opioid users and patients with chronic pain), and clients' reluctance to call 911. We also found that the police had some misconceptions about BCTHN.
Interpretation: The BCTHN program was easy to implement, empowering for clients and was responsible for reversing 85 overdoses in its first 20 months. We suggest communities across Canada should consider implementing take-home naloxone programs and evaluate their findings.