NCHRC’S COMMUNITY-BASED OVERDOSE PREVENTION PROJECT
Since the Overdose Prevention Project (OPP) became operational on August 1, 2013, NCHRC has dispensed over 80,000 free community overdose rescue kits that include naloxone (as of 8/2/2018) and have received 11,583 confirmed reports that the life-saving medication was administered successfully by lay individuals. Currently, the OPP has over 130 volunteer contractors who dispense overdose rescue kits throughout the state. Harm reduction programs like OPP can help to prevent overdose fatalities by conducting education with drug users on risk factors for overdose, signs of an overdose, and how to respond to save a victim. Many harm reduction programs also help drug users gain access to naloxone, a medication that counters the effects of an opioid overdose. By training drug users to resuscitate overdose victims and administer naloxone, harm reduction programs can dramatically reduce deaths from overdose. In a study published in the British Medical Journal, communities saw up to a 40 percent reduction in overdose mortality when they provide overdose prevention education and naloxone access.
While NCHRC would like to distribute free overdose rescue kits to everyone, the realities of a limited budget require our agency to prioritize people with a high risk for overdose. Free overdose rescue kits are only available to the following groups of people; active IV drug users, people on medication-assisted treatment, people who are formerly incarcerated with a history of opiate use, people engaged in sex work, or people who identify as transgender.
An overdose rescue kit contains two doses of naloxone, directions, and the necessary supplies to administer it.
The “911 Good Samaritan/Access to Naloxone” bill allows for a standing order distribution, meaning that medical practitioners can dispense naloxone without the provider present. Also known as SB20, the 2013 law lifts the fear of calling for medical assistance in the event of a drug overdose. Under SB20, witnesses and victims of an overdose have limited criminal immunity from prosecution for small amounts of some drugs and some paraphernalia that may be found as a result of calling for help. The immunity also applies to underage drinkers who seek help for alcohol poisoning, but the caller must give their real name and stay with the victim.
As of August 1, 2015, a person who seeks medical assistance for someone experiencing a drug overdose cannot be considered in violation of a condition of parole, probation, or post-release, even if that person was arrested. The victim is also protected. Also, the caller must provide his/her name to 911 or law enforcement to qualify for immunity.