Concept: Opioid overdose
The U.S. opioid epidemic is continuing, and drug overdose deaths nearly tripled during 1999-2014. Among 47,055 drug overdose deaths that occurred in 2014 in the United States, 28,647 (60.9%) involved an opioid (1). Illicit opioids are contributing to the increase in opioid overdose deaths (2,3). In an effort to target prevention strategies to address the rapidly changing epidemic, CDC examined overall drug overdose death rates during 2010-2015 and opioid overdose death rates during 2014-2015 by subcategories (natural/semisynthetic opioids, methadone, heroin, and synthetic opioids other than methadone).* Rates were stratified by demographics, region, and by 28 states with high quality reporting on death certificates of specific drugs involved in overdose deaths. During 2015, drug overdoses accounted for 52,404 U.S. deaths, including 33,091 (63.1%) that involved an opioid. There has been progress in preventing methadone deaths, and death rates declined by 9.1%. However, rates of deaths involving other opioids, specifically heroin and synthetic opioids other than methadone (likely driven primarily by illicitly manufactured fentanyl) (2,3), increased sharply overall and across many states. A multifaceted, collaborative public health and law enforcement approach is urgently needed. Response efforts include implementing the CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain (4), improving access to and use of prescription drug monitoring programs, enhancing naloxone distribution and other harm reduction approaches, increasing opioid use disorder treatment capacity, improving linkage into treatment, and supporting law enforcement strategies to reduce the illicit opioid supply.
From 2015 to 2016, opioid overdose deaths increased 27.7%, indicating a worsening of the opioid overdose epidemic and highlighting the importance of rapid data collection, analysis, and dissemination.
Opioid overdose deaths in Massachusetts increased 150% from 2012 to 2015 (1). The proportion of opioid overdose deaths in the state involving fentanyl, a synthetic, short-acting opioid with 50-100 times the potency of morphine, increased from 32% during 2013-2014 to 74% in the first half of 2016 (1-3). In April 2015, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and CDC reported an increase in law enforcement fentanyl seizures in Massachusetts, much of which was believed to be illicitly manufactured fentanyl (IMF) (4). To guide overdose prevention and response activities, in April 2016, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner collaborated with CDC to investigate the characteristics of fentanyl overdose in three Massachusetts counties with high opioid overdose death rates. In these counties, medical examiner charts of opioid overdose decedents who died during October 1, 2014-March 31, 2015 were reviewed, and during April 2016, interviews were conducted with persons who used illicit opioids and witnessed or experienced an opioid overdose. Approximately two thirds of opioid overdose decedents tested positive for fentanyl on postmortem toxicology. Evidence for rapid progression of fentanyl overdose was common among both fatal and nonfatal overdoses. A majority of interview respondents reported successfully using multiple doses of naloxone, the antidote to opioid overdose, to reverse suspected fentanyl overdoses. Expanding and enhancing existing opioid overdose education and prevention programs to include fentanyl-specific messaging and practices could help public health authorities mitigate adverse effects associated with overdoses, especially in communities affected by IMF.
The opioid use and overdose crisis is persistent and dynamic. Opioid overdoses were initially driven in the 1990s and 2000s by the increasing availability and misuse of prescription opioids. More recently, opioid overdoses are increasing at alarming rates due to wider use of heroin, which in some places is mixed with fentanyl or fentanyl derivatives. Naloxone access for opioid overdose rescue is one of the US Department of Health and Human Services' three priority areas for responding to the opioid crisis. This article summarizes the known benefits of naloxone access and details unanswered questions about overdose education and naloxone rescue kits. Hopefully future research will address these knowledge gaps, improve the effectiveness of opioid overdose education and naloxone distribution programs, and unlock the full promise of naloxone rescue kits.
The objectives were to analyze the knowledge about overdose prevention, the use of naloxone, and the number of fatal overdoses after the implementation of Systematic Training in Overdose Prevention (STOOP) program. We conducted a quasi-experimental study, and held face-to-face interviews before (n = 725) and after (n = 722) implementation of systematic training in two different samples of people who injected opioids attending harm reduction centers. We asked participants to list the main causes of overdose and the main actions that should be taken when witnessing an overdose. We created two dependent variables, the number of (a) correct and (b) incorrect answers. The main independent variable was Study Group: Intervention Group (IG), Comparison Group (CG), Pre-Intervention Group With Sporadic Training in Overdose Prevention (PREIGS), or Pre-Intervention Group Without Training in Overdose Prevention (PREIGW). The relationship between the dependent and independent variables was assessed using a multivariate Poisson regression analysis. Finally, we conducted an interrupted time series analysis of monthly fatal overdoses before and after the implementation of systematic program during the period 2006-2015. Knowledge of overdose prevention increased after implementing systematic training program. Compared to the PREIGW, the IG gave more correct answers (IRR = 1.40;95%CI:1.33-1.47), and fewer incorrect answers (IRR = 0.33;95%CI:0.25-0.44). Forty percent of people who injected opioids who received a naloxone kit had used the kit in response to an overdose they witnessed. These courses increase knowledge of overdose prevention in people who use opioids, give them the necessary skills to use naloxone, and slightly diminish the number of fatal opioid overdoses in the city of Barcelona.
Prison inmates face a ten times increased risk of experiencing a fatal drug overdose during their first 2 weeks upon release than their non-incarcerated counterparts. Naloxone, the antidote to an opioid overdose, has been shown to be feasible and effective when administered by bystanders. Given the particular risk that newly released inmates face, it is vital to assess their knowledge about opioid overdoses, as well as the impact of brief overdose prevention training conducted inside prisons.
To reduce fatal drug overdoses, two approaches many states have followed is to pass laws expanding naloxone access and Good Samaritan protections for lay persons with high likelihood to respond to an opioid overdose. Most prior research has examined attitudes and knowledge among lay responders in large metropolitan areas who actively use illicit substances. The present study addresses current gaps in knowledge related to this issue through an analysis of data collected from a broader group of lay responders who received naloxone kits from 20 local health departments across Indiana.
Objectives. We examined whether neighborhood social characteristics (income distribution and family fragmentation) and physical characteristics (clean sidewalks and dilapidated housing) were associated with the risk of fatalities caused by analgesic overdose. Methods. In a case-control study, we compared 447 unintentional analgesic opioid overdose fatalities (cases) with 3436 unintentional nonoverdose fatalities and 2530 heroin overdose fatalities (controls) occurring in 59 New York City neighborhoods between 2000 and 2006. Results. Analgesic overdose fatalities were less likely than nonoverdose unintentional fatalities to have occurred in higher-income neighborhoods (odds ratio [OR] = 0.82; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.70, 0.96) and more likely to have occurred in fragmented neighborhoods (OR = 1.35; 95% CI = 1.05, 1.72). They were more likely than heroin overdose fatalities to have occurred in higher-income (OR = 1.31; 95% CI = 1.12, 1.54) and less fragmented (OR = 0.71; 95% CI = 0.55, 0.92) neighborhoods. Conclusions. Analgesic overdose fatalities exhibit spatial patterns that are distinct from those of heroin and nonoverdose unintentional fatalities. Whereas analgesic fatalities typically occur in lower-income, more fragmented neighborhoods than nonoverdose fatalities, they tend to occur in higher-income, less unequal, and less fragmented neighborhoods than heroin fatalities. (Am J Public Health. Published online ahead of print October 17, 2013: e1-e9. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2013.301347).
In response to increasing opioid overdoses, US prevention efforts have focused on prescriber education and supply, demand and harm reduction strategies. Limited evidence informs which interventions are effective. We evaluated Project Lazarus, a centralised statewide intervention designed to prevent opioid overdose.
This is a brief report on the establishment of a new program in New York State prisons to prepare prisoners to avoid the increased risks of drug overdose death associated with the transition to the community by training them in overdose prevention and making available naloxone, a medication that quickly reverses the effects of an opioid overdose, to all prisoners as they re-enter the community. It is a milestone collaboration in the USA between public health, the correctional system, and a community-based harm reduction program in response to the growth of heroin and opioid analgesic use and related morbidity and mortality, working together to get naloxone into the hands of the people at high risk of overdosing and/or of witnessing an opioid overdose.