Naloxone Effectiveness: A Systematic Review

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Abstract

Purpose:

Opioid abuse and overdose is a public health concern as it relates to increased morbidity and mortality. This systematic review focuses on the application of take-home naloxone programs and its association with decreased mortality among those who abuse opioids. Take-home naloxone programs consist of distributed naloxone kits and corresponding education of overdose recognition. The purpose of this systematic review was to determine if programs that supply take-home naloxone are effective in preventing fatal overdoses among those who abuse opioids.

Methods:

A systematic search was conducted in Academic Search Complete, CINHAL, MEDLINE, PsychINFO, and SocINDEX. The key words searched were “programs,” “take-home kits,” “Narcan,” “Naloxone,” and “mortality.” On the basis of the predefined inclusion and exclusion criteria, nine studies were found for inclusion.

Results:

Study results were then synthesized, qualitatively, and within the current research, there is overwhelming support of take-home naloxone programs being effective in preventing fatal opioid overdoses. A significant limitation of this systematic review is the lack of randomized controlled trials as it is viewed as unethical withholding a known lifesaving medication from an at-risk population.

Practice Implications:

On the basis of the most current evidence, there is overwhelming support of take-home naloxone programs associated with decreased mortality among those who abuse opioids. As a result, there is an implication for a practice change that take-home naloxone programs should be more widely implemented throughout communities as a method of decreasing mortality associated with opioid overdoses. It is recommended that further research is done examining the cost-effectiveness of these programs.

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