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Preventing deaths from heroin/opioid overdose: Exploring web-based training in overdose management, naloxone delivery and naloxone carriage.


Death rates from heroin overdose in the UK are amongst the highest in Europe, and the number of deaths each year is rising steeply. Most of these deaths occur when other people are present, and so there is a real opportunity to prevent the death. A medicine called naloxone is important as it reverses the effects of heroin (by blocking its actions) and helps people to breathe again. Naloxone works extremely well but can only save lives if it is there when needed and if it is used correctly. People who use heroin are being offered naloxone and training in overdose management, but uptake is patchy, and naloxone is rarely carried. Sometimes this is because people who use heroin are not in contact with services. This research aims to develop and test ways of increasing the use of naloxone.

We're trying to develop and test 3 different ideas:

  1. Can we use a website to provide training in how to manage a heroin overdose?
  2. Can we post a supply of naloxone to people who might use it?
  3. Can we reward people who carry naloxone by a system of phone contact?


Here's how we will develop and test these ideas:

  • Working with services and with people who currently use heroin, family members, and frontline workers, we will develop training via video materials on the Internet. We will then test the online training.
  • Working with charities, we will establish a system for posting people a personal naloxone kit. We will ask for permission to stay in contact with people who receive these kits to find out what happens when a real-life overdose happens.
  • By linking with other work under way, we will develop and test a system of rewarding people for carrying naloxone. To do this, we will ask people for photographs to show that they are carrying their naloxone when they are away from home.


This research is essential because policymakers need to find better ways of providing training to the public in how to manage an overdose emergency. It is important that people in government departments understand what they can do to introduce more effective policies and interventions. We will also share our findings in scientific papers, briefings, podcasts, and blogs etc so that they reach as many people as possible. Our work will be used to make sure more people who might need to use naloxone are carrying it, and we move closer to the World Health Organization’s target of ‘90% will be carrying naloxone on them or have it close to hand’.

Project status: Ongoing