Text AA

Harm Reduction Coalition Applauds Release of SAMHSA Overdose Prevention Toolkit

For Immediate Release

Media contacts:
Daniel Raymond, Policy Director: (212) 213-6376 x29 – raymond@harmreduction.org
Dr. Sharon Stancliff, Medical Director: (212) 213-6376 x39 – stancliff@harmreduction.org
Eliza Wheeler, DOPE Project Manager: (510) 444-6969 – wheeler@harmreduction.org

Toolkit Launch Marks International Overdose Awareness Day

In preparations to mark International Overdose Awareness Day on August 31st the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) have released a new Opioid Overdose Toolkit. The toolkit aims to reduce the number of fatal opioid overdoses by providing education for clinicians, patients, communities, first responders, overdose survivors and family members.

The overdose prevention toolkit highlights the importance of access to naloxone, a medication that reverses the effects of overdose from opioids (heroin or prescription painkillers). “This toolkit marks growing federal support and leadership for expanding use and availability of naloxone as a central component of a comprehensive overdose prevention strategy,” noted Daniel Raymond, Harm Reduction Coalition’s Policy Director. “We’re seeing a tremendous groundswell of support across the country for addressing overdose through overdose education and naloxone distribution programs, from parents groups and community coalitions, medical societies, substance abuse treatment and recovery groups, and state legislatures.”

“Naloxone is safe, cheap and effective, and overdose prevention programs which provide naloxone – whether through health departments, first responders, harm reduction organizations, or drug treatment facilities — are saving lives,” said Dr. Sharon Stancliff, Medical Director of the Harm Reduction Coalition. Naloxone is an opioid antagonist with no potential for extra-medical use and is the gold standard medication for counteracting and reversing the effects of opioid overdose. The Harm Reduction Coalition (HRC) has been in the forefront of this push for naloxone, through advocating and providing technical assistance for overdose prevention for nearly a decade. As part of this on going work, HRC trains people who use opioids, along with their peers, allies, friends and family members on overdose prevention, recognition and response, as well as on how to use naloxone to reverse opioid overdose. As support for naloxone grows so has the evidence base. A 2012 report authored by Harm Reduction Coalition’s DOPE Project Manager and colleagues published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), stated that since 1996, 10,171 overdoses had been reversed by using naloxone—or around 20% of people (53,032) trained and provided with naloxone by community-based organizations.

Overdose claimed the lives of 38,329 people the US in 2010, over 100 persons every day, exceeding the number of lives lost in road and traffic accidents or gun violence. According to the CDC, opioid analgesics (painkillers) alone have claimed the lives of 125,000 people in the last decade. Currently, the overdose epidemic currently shows no little sign of abating and is best characterized by a steady upward trend, with a roughly five-fold increase in fatal overdoses since 1990.

On the eve of International Overdose Awareness Day the Harm Reduction Coalition welcomes the release of the toolkit and congratulates both ONDCP and SAMHSA for a coordinated, evidence-based response to overdose prevention and for endorsing a harm reduction intervention that can save lives. Harm Reduction Coalition urges policy makers and communities to integrate broader access to naloxone into their overdose prevention strategies. In the words of ONDCP Deputy Director Michael Botticelli, “We must do more…. We have lost too many loved ones to overdose, and the deadly disease of addiction has remained for too long in the shadows. It is time to speak out.”

For more information the Harm Reduction Coalition’s ongoing work on overdose prevention, follow the Drug Overdose Prevention & Education Project (DOPE) Project on facebook and twitter.

Designed & Developed by Firefly Partners