Addiction, Overdose, and Behavioral Health

  • Addiction is a chronic and relapsing disease, however overdose deaths are preventable with effective life saving intervention.
  • Behavioral health and substance abuse providers and staff have a unique point of contact with high risk population.
  • Overdose prevention education provides another tool or opportunity to engage with those who abuse drugs, their families, and the community at large.
  • It can help build rapport, provides practical tools, and communicates that clients’ lives are valuable and worth saving.
  • Individuals in treatment or recovery are at relatively low risk of overdose when they are stabilized, but high risk while medication assisted treatment is being established. They are also at VERY high risk if they resume use at any time.
  • The wide-reaching impact that drug abuse and overdose have on our society makes it a significant public health problem that affects those who use drugs, their families and friends, health care providers, public safety, and the community as a whole.

Implementing Overdose Prevention Strategies

  • Put up posters about preventing or responding to an overdose
  • Provide educational materials (brochures, fact sheets) for program participants on overdose
  • Develop a policy for responding to on-site overdose
  • Train program staff and volunteers on overdose – including risk factors, signs and symptoms, and response (including rescue breathing and naloxone administration)
  • Discuss overdose risks with participants and screen participants for higher risk
  • Ask program participants if they have witnessed an overdose
  • Ask program participants if they have survived an overdose
  • Talk to program participants about the availability of naloxone
  • Offer referrals to places where program participants can get naloxone
  • Talk with program participants about what to do if they’re with someone who is overdosing
  • Discuss or incorporate overdose prevention in groups