An alarming increase in overdose, largely from opioid-associated painkillers, but also heroin, has been recorded nationwide. In response, Dr. Janie Simmons – a researcher at the National Development & Research Institute, and member of the Fordham University HIV and Drug Abuse Prevention Research Ethics Training Institute – in collaboration with an expert team of physicians, nurses, other substance use researchers, and curriculum and graphic designers – created two interactive, computer-based, overdose prevention education modules.
The two modules, free of cost and available at GetNaloxoneNow.org, were designed to prepare both laypersons and first responders (police, firefighters, EMTs) to use Naloxone for overdose rescue. They were adapted from face-to-face, evidence-based models and were funded by the National Institutes of Health/National Institutes of Drug Abuse (Grant # 1R43DA029358-01A1 and Grant # 1R43DA033746-01). Both modules have the potential to significantly impact overdose mortality rates in cities and towns throughout the United States.
“In recent years, more people have been dying of overdoses,” Simmons explained. “Overdoses now are taking more lives than the AIDS epidemic at its peak.”
The modules can be used either as stand-alone trainings or as a complement to face-to-face trainings, and can be accessed individually or be utilized in a group training exercise. GetNaloxoneNow.org also features the Naloxone Finder, which allows users to enter their zip code and find the nearest location where Naloxone is available, in addition to updated news and information regarding overdose, drug treatment, and related topics. Simmons, who has worked with people who use heroin and/or opioid analgesics over the years, hopes that in the near future, Naloxone becomes a standard part of first aid kits that people keep in their homes, their businesses, and that a prescription for Naloxone, and even the Naloxone itself, is provided with every prescription for opioid analgesics, and is otherwise readily accessible for all who need it.
Recently, officials from the Pennsylvania Board of Health and the Pennsylvania Department of Alcohol and Addiction Programs contacted Simmons as a result of the State’s legal mandate to have free, online overdose training available to all first responders. They chose GetNaloxoneNow.org’s First Responder training module to be the required training and are also helping with dissemination of the Bystander module as well. So far, more than 2,300 police in the state have already successfully completed the First Responder module.
Simmons hopes to secure funding in order to increase disseminate efforts and keep GetNaloxoneNow.org sustainable, as well as to update the modules and website, as needed, and to provide Spanish (and other language) versions of the training modules and website.
“The reason opioid overdoses are getting so much attention is because it’s affecting people in all age groups, ethnicities, geographic areas, etc.” Simmons said. “People can’t ignore it and say it’s isolated to a certain population any more. It was always needed. Everyone deserves a second chance.”