The heaviest opioid users may be the best candidates to get training in the use of naloxone, a drug that reverses an overdose, according to a new study by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
Health departments and nonprofits around the country, including in Baltimore, have been giving out and training people how to use naloxone to prevent opioid deaths.
The researchers interviewed 450 drug users in Baltimore and found that users who had witnessed more drug overdoses tended to be those who engaged in riskier drug use and used drugs in more places.
The study, published in the journal Substance Abuse, comes as the opioid crisis continues to worsen and deaths surge.
“A user can’t administer naloxone to himself when he’s overdosing, so from a public health standpoint we need to figure out which users are most likely to witness other users’ overdoses and thus be in position to revive them,” senior author Carl A. Latkin, a professor in the Bloomberg School’s Department of Health, Behavior and Society, said in a statement. “Our results indicate that the likeliest overdose witnesses are the heavier users who use in a wider range of settings.”