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Addict Behav. 2018 Nov;86:90-95. doi: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2018.03.014. Epub 2018 Mar 19.

Opioid-overdose laws association with opioid use and overdose mortality.

Author information

1
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Rockville, MD, United States. Electronic address: chandler.mcclellan@samhsa.hhs.gov.
2
RTI International, San Francisco, CA, United States; University of California-San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, United States; University of Washington, Seattle, WA, United States.
3
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Rockville, MD, United States.
4
Network for Public Health Law, Los Angeles, CA, United States; Brody School of Medicine, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC, United States.
5
Drug Overdose Prevention and Education (DOPE) Project, Harm Reduction Coalition, Oakland, CA, United States.
6
RTI International, San Francisco, CA, United States.

Abstract

INTRODUCTION:

Since the 1990's, governmental and non-governmental organizations have adopted several measures to increase access to the opioid overdose reversal medication naloxone. These include the implementation of laws that increase layperson naloxone access and overdose-specific Good Samaritan laws that protect those reporting overdoses from criminal sanction. The association of these legal changes with overdose mortality and non-medical opioid use is unknown. We assess the relationship of (1) naloxone access laws and (2) overdose Good Samaritan laws with opioid-overdose mortality and non-medical opioid use in the United States.

METHODS:

We used 2000-2014 National Vital Statistics System data, 2002-2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health data, and primary datasets of the location and timing of naloxone access laws and overdose Good Samaritan laws.

RESULTS:

By 2014, 30 states had a naloxone access and/or Good Samaritan law. States with naloxone access laws or Good Samaritan laws had a 14% (p = 0.033) and 15% (p = 0.050) lower incidence of opioid-overdose mortality, respectively. Both law types exhibit differential association with opioid-overdose mortality by race and age. No significant relationships were observed between any of the examined laws and non-medical opioid use.

CONCLUSIONS:

Laws designed to increase layperson engagement in opioid-overdose reversal were associated with reduced opioid-overdose mortality. We found no evidence that these measures were associated with increased non-medical opioid use.

KEYWORDS:

Good Samaritan Laws; Mortality; Naloxone; Opioids

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