Has the Availability of Naloxone Changed Perceptions of Opioid Dangers?

Has the Availability of Naloxone Changed Perceptions of Opioid Dangers?

Naloxone is a drug that, when used appropriately, can save lives in instances of an opioid overdose. When given to someone suffering an overdose, it quickly restores normal breathing in those whose breathing has slowed or stopped.

Is it so effective that it might make opioid use seem less dangerous?

That’s been a question of concern for addiction specialists.

New research from Ohio State University suggests it needn’t be – at least for now.

The study authors used data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, which included 884,800 respondents aged 12 and older from 2004 to 2016, to reach their conclusions.

To determine whether the availability of naloxone affected perceptions about the dangers of heroin or other opioids, the team compared attitudes about this class of drugs in states where naloxone was widely available to attitudes in those states where naloxone was not readily available. They also looked for any changes in perceptions about opioids once naloxone was made widely available in a state for the first time.

Their findings?

The widespread availability of naloxone does not appear to change perceptions about the dangers of heroin or other opioid drugs.

Mike Vuolo, co-author of the study and Associate Professor of Sociology at The Ohio State University, believes their research confirms that access to naloxone does not increase drug use any more than access to clean needles has with heroin addicts over the years.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse funded the study.

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