An Initial evaluation of law enforcement overdose training in Rhode Island

Drug Alcohol Depend. 2016 May 1;162:211-8. doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2016.03.011. Epub 2016 Mar 19.


Objectives: To assess initial change in knowledge, self-efficacy, and anticipated behaviors among Rhode Island law enforcement officers on drug overdose response and prevention.

Methods: Law enforcement officers (N=316) voluntarily completed a pre-post evaluation immediately before and after taking part in overdose prevention and response trainings. Assessment items included measures of knowledge (Brief Overdose Recognition and Response Assessment (BORRA)), self-efficacy, attitudes toward drugs and overdose prevention, awareness of the Good Samaritan Law, and open-ended items pertaining to overdose knowledge and response behaviors. Non-parametric tests measured within-group and between-group differences. Wilcoxon Signed Rank tests and Kruskal-Wallis tests evaluated changes in BORRA scores and self-efficacy items. McNemar's tests assessed changes regarding the Good Samaritan law and open-ended items. Wilcoxon Signed Rank tests measured post-training change in attitudes.

Results: Law enforcement officers demonstrated statistically significant improvements in self-efficacy (identifying signs of opioid overdose, naloxone indication, counseling witnesses in overdose prevention, and referring witnesses for more information), overdose identification knowledge (BORRA mean increased from 7.00 to 10.39), naloxone administration knowledge (BORRA mean increased from 10.15 to 12.59), Good Samaritan Law awareness (17.9% increase after training), and anticipated behaviors in response to future observed overdose (65.7% changed from passive to active response post training).

Conclusions: Harm reduction programs can provide law enforcement officers with the knowledge and skills necessary to intervene and reduce overdose mortality. Given the statistically significant improvements in self-efficacy, attitudinal changes, and Good Samaritan law awareness, law enforcement officers are more prepared to actively interact with drug users during a drug-involved emergency.

Keywords: First responders; Law enforcement; Naloxone; Opioids; Overdose.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Analgesics, Opioid / therapeutic use
  • Drug Overdose / prevention & control
  • Drug Overdose / psychology*
  • Drug Users
  • Education / methods*
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Naloxone / therapeutic use
  • Narcotic Antagonists / therapeutic use
  • Police / education*
  • Police / psychology
  • Program Evaluation*
  • Rhode Island
  • Self Efficacy
  • Young Adult


  • Analgesics, Opioid
  • Narcotic Antagonists
  • Naloxone