Should Users Be Armed with Anti-Overdose Drugs?

Jan 28, 2016

Assistant Director for Outreach of West Virginia University’s Injury Control Research Center, Herb Linn passed a take-home naloxone kit around the room. The kit includes instructions, gloves and Naloxone to be administered as a nasal spray. Linn said the value of each kit is about $11.

Community members met in Ohio County this week to talk about developing a program that would allow non-professionals to administer life-saving drugs to someone overdosing on pain pills or heroin. A similar program began in the Eastern Panhandle in September, and organizers report it’s already saving lives.


The drug Naloxone can stop a heroin or pain pill overdose in its tracks. It’s been used by doctors and emergency workers for a while. Now it’s a tool for law enforcement members of the public, too. In some places, after completing training, non-professionals are receiving kits or prescriptions for the drug.

Herb Linn is the Assistant Director for Outreach of West Virginia University’s Injury Control Research Center. He spoke to more than 20 community members: medical professionals, school administrators, and rehab specialists.

“I want to talk to you about the fact that as late as August of this year there were no programs in West Virginia and since then, we’ve had a number of programs emerge.”

Linn pointed to the Eastern Panhandle, where he says trained individuals were able to administer naloxone saving three overdosing people. One, he says, was pregnant.

He talked about research his organization has conducted into other opioid overdose prevention programs initiated in urban areas of the country in the 90s. Programs that would provide users with naloxone. Linn also conducted interviews with opioid users in Logan, Mingo, and Boone counties and discovered about 90 percent would be willing to participate in similar programs. Those programs provide both naloxone and training to identify an overdose and administer the drug.

Appalachia Health News is a project of West Virginia Public Broadcasting, with support from the Benedum Foundation.