Opioid Overdose: Where is Naloxone?

April 17, 2018

The 2018 Australian and New Zealand Addiction Conference will be held next month on Monday 28 and Tuesday 29 May with optional workshops on Wednesday 30 May at the QT Gold Coast.

Dr. Jeanne-Marie van der Westhuizen, Senior Medical Officer, AODS DDHHS, Toowoomba Hospital joins us at the Conference to discuss ‘Opioid Overdose: Where is Naloxone?


Worldwide, approximately 187 000 people die every year in drug related deaths. These deaths are mostly due to drug overdose and most of these are opioid overdoses. Naloxone is used to reverse opioid overdoses but despite its availability for the past forty years, its use in the community is limited; there are thus clearly barriers to naloxone provision. Defining and describing these barriers is important in order to save lives.

A systematic review of the literature was undertaken and a thematic analysis utilised to define and describe the recurring themes with reference to barriers in the literature. Naloxone providers in the community were categorised into medical doctors, first responders (police and emergency medical services), pharmacists and other addiction services. Six themes describing categories of barriers to the provision of naloxone from the perspective of the provider were defined and described: knowledge/self-efficacy, misperceptions/false beliefs, regulation/policy, stigma/discrimination and formulation. The findings contribute to the understanding of why naloxone provision is not more widely available despite evidence that it is safe and effective in reversing an opioid overdose.


Dr Jeanne-Marie van der Westhuizen works as a senior medical officer at AODS, Toowoomba for the DDHHS, Queensland Health; she has worked in this position since 2011. In 2016, she graduated with a Master of Science in Addiction Studies (IPAS) through the University of Adelaide, Kings College London and Virginia Commonwealth University. Prior to this, her experience was largely in Emergency Medicine across three countries and continents: Canada (1990-1998), South Africa (1998-2007) and Australia (2007-present). She is married to Dr. Mark Painter, a paediatrician, and they have three adult daughters all of whom are studying at university.

For more information on the upcoming 2018 Australian and New Zealand Addiction Conference please visit the conference website.



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