In a study of communities in Massachusetts with high numbers of opioid overdose deaths, the implementation of overdose education and naloxone distribution (OEND) was associated with a significant reduction in opioid overdose death rates. Led by researchers at Boston Medical Center (BMC), Boston University Schools of Medicine (BUSM) and Public Health (BUSPH) in collaboration with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) and published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), this study provides observational evidence that OEND is an effective public health intervention to address the epidemic of fatal opioid overdose.
Opioids include substances such as heroin and prescription pain relievers, namely hydrocodone, oxycodone, codeine, morphine and fentanyl. The rate of opioid overdose continues to rise and is a major cause of preventable death. Opioid related overdose deaths have exceeded the number of motor vehicle deaths each year since 2005 in Massachusetts and are the leading cause of injury death in the commonwealth.
OEND is an innovative, community-based intervention that educates people at risk for overdose and potential bystanders on how to prevent, recognize and respond to an overdose. It also equips these individuals with a naloxone rescue kit. Naloxone, which may be administered by injection or by nasal spray, is a safe and effective antidote that reverses the life-threatening effects of an opioid overdose.