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Take Home Naloxone Program: Nine Month Review

9 Months After Launch, 14 Overdose Reversals Reported

Naloxone is a safe and effective medication that can quickly reverse an opioid overdose. As of August 2012, the BC Centre for Disease Control launched the BC Take Home Naloxone (THN) pilot program to provide overdose prevention and response training to people at risk. Those who use opioids and complete the training are prescribed and dispensed a THN kit from a participating site. The kit contains the tools necessary to administer naloxone in the event of an overdose giving people immediate access to a potentially life-saving treatment.

By the Numbers

  • In the first 9 months, 14 overdose reversals have been reported.
  • 995 THN kits have been sent to 18 sites in 3 health authorities.
  • 248 people have completed the training and received a kit.
  • More than 400 people have been trained in OD prevention and response in BC. This included people who use drugs, their friends and family, and service providers.

Evaluation Findings

The BCCDC’s Harm Reduction Program is tracking the dispensing of naloxone and collecting data at many stages to monitor and evaluate the THN program’s performance. Additionally, two focus group meetings have been held with opioid users who participated in the training, and interviews conducted with two members of the Vancouver Police Department (VPD) and two parents of people who use opioids.

The findings show that stakeholders support the program and program trainees felt the training session was beneficial and essential prior to receiving a kit. Parents were supportive of the program and expressed the need for greater accessibility. The two VPD officers had concerns about the program that were rooted in misconceptions about naloxone, believing a person could get ‘high’ from its use, for one. Since this time a 1-page information sheet has been produced for law enforcement in BC.

Naloxone cannot be abused

The training session data and dispensing record show that the program is rapidly ramping up and there are a number of new pilot sites who only just received their THN kits. More sites are expressing interest in participating in the program, and Fraser Health and Northern Health have also started to plan for THN programs. 

Across Canada, naloxone programs are expanding amid the growing evidence that the program is beneficial and cost-effective. The combination of overdose prevention and response in these programs has been shown to save lives. The 14 overdose reversals reported in the first few months of the BC pilot program highlight how important it is.

Next Steps for the BC THN Program

There remain some obstacles for the BC THN program to expand and to be as efficient as possible. We’re working on:

  • Getting naloxone covered by BC PharmaCare so it is affordable to all British Columbians
  • Adding naloxone to Schedule IV drugs provincially so it can be prescribed by pharmacists and not just physicians or nurse practitioners
  • Expanding access of the BC THN program across all of BC’s geographic health authorities
  • Working with the College of Physicians in educating methadone maintenance therapy prescribers about naloxone
  • Linking program data with other sources such as the BC Ambulance and BC Coroner’s services


We post articles and other information in Naloxone Resources: News Section.

Opioid Overdose Deaths in the US Increasing
Research Letter to the Editor in American Medical Association (February 2013) citing data that shows drug overdose deaths in the US have increased for the eleventh consecutive year driven by opioid pharmaceuticals.

Canada Surpasses US in Opioid Use
For the first time ever Canada has surpassed the United States in per capita consumption of opioids according to the International Narcotics Control Board. Both countries top the chart in excessive use with Norway coming in a distant third.

AMA Policy Statement: Preventing Overdose Through Education and Naloxone Distribution
The American Medical Association has put out a policy statement calling on federal agencies, elected officials, local and state health departments, and health care professionals to support these promising interventions.

Canada Needs a Strategy!

Toronto addiction medicine doctor talks about the need to expand naloxone programs in Canada.