Family carers and the prevention of heroin overdose deaths: Unmet training need and overlooked intervention opportunity of resuscitation training and supply of naloxone

John Strang, Victoria Manning, Soraya Mayet, Emily Titherington, Liz Offor, Claudia Semmler, Anna Williams

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40 Citations (Scopus)


Aim: To assess (a) carers' experiences of witnessing overdose; (b) their training needs; and (c) their interest in receiving training in overdose management. Design: Postal questionnaire distributed through consenting participating local carer group co-ordinators in England. Sample: 147 carers attending local support groups for friends and families of drug users. Findings: Carers were usually parents (80%); 89% were currently caring for a heroin user of whom 49% had already had an overdose (93% involving opiates). One third had witnessed heroin being used, and 31 had witnessed an overdose. For eight carers, there had already been a death from drug overdose. There was poor knowledge of how to manage an overdose. Only a quarter had received advice on overdose management (26%) and only one third knew of the opiate antagonist naloxone (33%). The majority (88%) wanted training in overdose management, especially in emergency naloxone administration (88%). Interest in training did not differ according to carer type nor previous overdose experience. Conclusion: We found evidence of an extensively overlooked carer population, many of whom have already been faced with an overdose situation and yet have received minimal training. We also found high levels of interest in receiving overdose training, in particular, in emergency naloxone administration.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)211-218
Number of pages8
JournalDrugs: Education, Prevention and Policy
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2008
Externally publishedYes

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