Naloxone Access Not Linked to Teen Substance Use

Naloxone access and pharmacy naloxone distribution not tied to more adolescent heroin, injection drug use

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THURSDAY, March 9, 2023 (HealthDay News) -- Naloxone access does not promote high-risk adolescent substance use behaviors, according to a study published in the April issue of the International Journal of Drug Policy.

Emilie Bruzelius, M.P.H., from Columbia University in New York City, and colleagues examined relationships between naloxone access laws and pharmacy naloxone distribution with lifetime heroin and injection drug use (IDU; 2007 to 2019).

The researchers found that adoption of any naloxone law was not associated with changes in adolescent lifetime heroin or IDU. There was a small decrease in heroin use (adjusted odds ratio, 0.95) and a small increase in IDU (adjusted odds ratio, 1.07) with pharmacy dispensing. In exploratory analyses, third-party prescribing laws (adjusted odds ratio, 0.80) and non-patient-specific dispensing models (adjusted odds ratio, 0.78) were associated with decreased heroin use, but not decreased IDU. Unmeasured confounding may explain observed findings given the small e-values associated with the pharmacy dispensing and provision estimates.

"Findings from our research do not support the hypothesis that broader availability of naloxone between the years studied of 2007 to 2019 increased heroin use or injection drug use among adolescents and suggest that increased adolescent drug use as an unintended consequence of naloxone availability is an unfounded concern," Bruzelius said in a statement.

One author disclosed financial ties to the biopharmaceutical industry.

Abstract/Full Text (subscription or payment may be required)

Lori Solomon

Lori Solomon

Published on March 09, 2023

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