By Andrew McAuley, Alison Munro and Avril Taylor
The supply of naloxone, the opioid antagonist, for peer administration (‘take-home naloxone’ (THN)) has been promoted as a means of preventing opioid-related deaths for over 20 years. Despite this, little is known about PWID experiences of take-home naloxone administration. The aim of this study was to advance the evidence base on THN by producing one of the first examinations of the lived-experience of THN use among PWID.
Qualitative, face to face, semi-structured interviews were undertaken at a harm reduction service with individuals known to have used take-home naloxone in an overdose situation in a large urban area in Scotland. Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) was then applied to the data from these in-depth accounts.
The primary analysis involved a total of 8 PWID (seven male, one female) known to have used take-home naloxone. This paper focuses on the two main themes concerning naloxone administration: psychological impacts of peer administration and role perceptions. In the former, the feelings participants encounter at different stages of their naloxone experience, including before, during and after use, are explored. In the latter, the concepts of role legitimacy, role adequacy, role responsibility and role support are considered.
This study demonstrates that responding to an overdose using take-home naloxone is complex, both practically and emotionally, for those involved. Although protocols exist, a multitude of individual, social and environmental factors shape responses in the short and longer terms. Despite these challenges, participants generally conveyed a strong sense of therapeutic commitment to using take-home naloxone in their communities.