Naloxone for the Prevention of Opioid Overdose Deaths

Posted May 22, 2015

Drug/alcohol overdose is the third leading cause of death in jails and the fifth leading cause in prisons. To save lives that might be lost to opioid overdose, the National Commission on Correctional Health Care has issued a position statement that supports use of naloxone in correctional facilities.

In the case of opioid overdose, administration of a quick-acting opioid antagonist typically results in return to consciousness, resumption of breathing and, in cases of opioid dependence, onset of withdrawal symptoms. Naloxone, the most widely used opioid antagonist, is safe, effective and nonaddictive, and has a rapid onset of action. In 2014, the Food and Drug Administration approved a naloxone delivery device that can be safely used by nonmedical personnel. The American Society of Addiction Medicine specifically recommends use of naloxone by correctional officers to initiate early response to suspected opioid overdose.

Accordingly, the National Commission supports increased access to and use of naloxone in correctional facilities. NCCHC recommends that correctional and medical staff undergo training that includes education on opioid overdose and its signs; correct technique for administration of naloxone, either by intramuscular injection (medical staff) or by nasal inhalation (medical and nonmedical staff); positioning of the inmate; and essential related procedures, including performance of cardiopulmonary resuscitation and emergency transfer of the inmate to a facility equipped to treat overdose.

View the statement, titled Naloxone in Correctional Facilities for the Prevention of Opioid Overdose Deaths »

View all NCCHC position statements »