142nd APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition

Annual Meeting Recordings are now available for purchase

Nonfatal Overdose Experience and Medical Assistance Seeking Among Injection Drug Users in New Orleans

142nd APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition (November 15 - November 19, 2014): http://www.apha.org/events-and-meetings/annual
Tuesday, November 18, 2014

William Robinson, Ph.D. , Behavioral and Community Health Sciences Program, LSUHSC School of Public Health, New Orleans, LA
Laura Cahill , School of Public Health, LSUHSC, New Orleans, LA
Narquis Barak , NO/AIDS Task Force, New Orleans, LA
James Diaz, MD, MPH, DrPH , School of Public Health, LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans, LA, New Orleans, LA

There has been a recently alarming increase in deaths due to drug overdose in the United States. While many of these deaths could have been avoided with immediate medical assistance, several barriers prevented ready access to immediate resuscitation including felony arrest, retribution by drug sellers, and lack of availability of effective treatment options, by both peer and medical professionals.


Participants in the New Orleans arm of the National HIV Behavioral Surveillance of Injection Drug Users (IDU) were surveyed about their personal and witnessed drug overdose experiences.  Multiple logistic regression analyses were then conducted to assess predictors of lifetime overdose events and probability of seeking assistance by medical provider.  


Twenty seven percent of 484 IDU surveyed had experienced at least one overdose in their lifetime, while 64% had witnessed an overdose.  Individuals were more likely to have overdosed if they were White, had undergone substance treatment, and had injected drugs for longer and more frequent periods.   IDU who were more likely to seek aid were younger, White, and reported being unafraid of legal repercussions.  Very few had used or were cognizant of the use of immediate opiate antagonists for emergent overdose management.


While other data report sentinel events and incidence of overdose fatalities, these findings detail the high prevalence of nonfatal overdoses among IDU.  Because the majority of deaths are due to prescription and illicit opioids, the availability of opiate antagonists should be promoted.  In addition, Good Samaritan Laws for IDU seeking aid should also be enacted.

Learning Areas:

Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Discuss injection drug users experience with overdose in New Orleans. List risk factors associated with overdose. Explain barriers to seeking medical assistance during a witnessed overdose.

Keyword(s): Drug Abuse

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am currently a second year doctoral student in public health at LSUHSC. I hold a masterís degree in Gender and Womenís Studies and in Public Health. I have been working directly with the principal investigator for the past two years for the Teen Outreach Program and the National HIV Behavioral Surveillance. I have research experience in injection drug use, opioid overdose, HIV/HCV testing behaviors, and sexual and reproductive health.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.