Impacts of a novel law-enforcement delivered intervention on drug user health

School of Community Health Sciences

Effective Dates: 5/1/16-2/28/21
Grant: NIH/NIDA R01DA040648
Principal Co-Investigators: Karla Wagner (UNR Consortium PI), Roman Pabayo (Co-Investigator), Wei Yang (Co-Investigator)

Drug-related overdose deaths are now the largest cause of injury death in the United States. A number of interventions have emerged in the last decade in response to this epidemic, including training and equipping law enforcement officers to use naloxone (an opioid antagonist) at the scene of an overdose.

Equipping law enforcement officers with naloxone is intended to capitalize on the fact that officers often arrive at an overdose scene before other emergency services, particularly in rural areas. In the last five years, law enforcement agencies in at least 28 states are planning to or have begun carrying naloxone to use when they attend overdose cases.

Project Aims

The overarching goal of this study is to determine the impact of law enforcement use of naloxone to respond to drug overdoses on two primary outcomes:

  1. Uptake of drug treatment referrals by overdose victims referred by law enforcement officers
  2. Rates of calling 911 to summon emergency medical services by drug users who witness overdoses

Project Design

A mixed-methods study will be conducted using primary qualitative interviews with a community-recruited sample of drug users, San Diego Sherriff's Department (SDSD) Deputies, and treatment professionals. We will also conduct secondary analysis of data available through our partnership with SDSD, their drug treatment partners the McAlister Institute and the County of San Diego, including 911 dispatch data, SDSD case records and treatment data.