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Take Home Naloxone Stakeholder Evaluation Study

Check out this Global BC news story about the BC Take Home Naloxone Program!

Naloxone is a medication that quickly reverses the effects of an overdose from opioids like heroin, morphine, fentanyl and OxyContin®. In 2012, BC developed a Take Home Naloxone Program (BCTHN) to distribute kits with the lifesaving drug. Now at the one year mark, an evaluation has been conducted to determine how acceptable the program is to stakeholders, and identify successes and challenges. Study participants included people who use opioids, health care providers at BCTHN implementation sites, members of the Vancouver Police Department (VPD) and parents of people who use opioids.


Our findings show that stakeholders are satisfied with the BCTHN program and want to see it expand. People who use opioids were trained in overdose prevention, recognition and response, and felt confident they would be able to respond to overdose events successfully and without anxiety. They felt having access to naloxone will not promote risky behavior or lead to increased drug use. Service providers at the sites felt the BCTHN program was easy to implement and saw the training part of the program as an engagement tool for encouraging people who use opioids to access health care services.


One of the challenges identified is low level of participation by at risk groups such as chronic pain patients on opioids medication and long-term illicit opioid users. Chronic pain patients were concerned about being labeled as drug users, and long-term illicit opioid users felt they were experienced enough not to overdose.

We also found that the police officers had misperceptions about naloxone and thought naloxone would promote risk-taking behavior by clients. Clients also reported confiscation of naloxone kits by the police. In response, we prepared a 1-page flyer for police working in BC. We hope this flyer will help police to recognize naloxone kits in the community and understand that their purpose is to save lives.


Stakeholders’ recommendations for improving program implementation include integrating BCTHN into regular medical practice by co-prescribing naloxone with opioids and re-scheduling naloxone so that it is available to family and friends of people who use opioids and frontline workers. Engaging risk groups and law enforcement would help increase the reach of the BCTHN program.

In addition, provision of regulations that protect people who call 911 in overdose situations similar to the Good Samaritan law in the United States would help to allay clients’ fear and ensure that emergency health services are contacted for follow-up care after naloxone administration.

The BC Centre for Disease Control is working to increase engagement with all stakeholders and correct misperceptions about naloxone. This ongoing evaluation is also a step to provide evidence on take home naloxone programs that will inform policies and future program planning. 

To start a THN program in your community, check out the Naloxone page and then contact us:


Dr. Jane Buxton at the CPHAC

On June 10, 2013, Dr. Jane Buxton presented findings from the THN Stakeholder Evaluation study at the 2013 Canadian Public Health Association Conference in Ottawa.

CPHA: Canada's Public Health Leader

The following day, she presented other work on agranulocytosis related to cocaine adulterated with levamisole.

While in Ottawa, Jane also had the opportunity to present BC’s Take Home Naloxone program to the Public Health Physicians of Canada.

Public Health Physicians of Canada

Naloxone is safe and legal to prescribe. Check out these Key Points for Medical, Ethical & Legal Concerns to learn why a growing number of practitioners believe prescribing naloxone along with other opiate medication, or to those using illicit opioids, should be the standard of care.