Researchers: Naloxone availability encourages risky opioid use

By broadening addict and layperson access to naloxone, the paper claims naloxone access laws don't reduce opioid-related mortality


By FireRescue1 Staff

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — A recently released research paper examines the correlation between access to naloxone and opioid abuse.

The research paper, titled "The moral hazard of lifesaving innovations: Naloxone access, opioid abuse and crime," looks at how access to naloxone "may unintentionally increase opioid abuse."

The paper claims an increase in opioid abuse may be due to saving the lives of active drug users as well as reducing the risk of death per use. (Photo/Pixabay)
The paper claims an increase in opioid abuse may be due to saving the lives of active drug users as well as reducing the risk of death per use. (Photo/Pixabay)

The paper claims an increase in opioid abuse may be due to saving the lives of active drug users as well as reducing the risk of death per use. Furthermore, the researchers state that naloxone access laws may increase theft by "increasing the number of opioid abusers who need to fund their drug purchases."

Naloxone access laws, which make it easier for addicts, as well as friends and family, to obtain naloxone provide legal immunity to prescribers or bystanders who administer naloxone. Naloxone access laws also make it possible for pharmacies to dispense naloxone to bystanders without a prescription.

The research, which claims their analysis is "consistent with the hypothesis that broadening access to naloxone encourages riskier behavior with respect to opioid abuse," found that the broadening of naloxone access laws led to:

  • More opioid-related ER visits
  • More opioid-related theft
  • An increase in the use of fentanyl
  • No reduction in opioid-related mortality
  • A 14 percent increase in opioid-related mortality in the Midwest

Jennifer Doleac, the paper's co-author and an assistant professor of public policy and economics, acknowledged the challenge of studying opioid abuse and naloxone. "So it turns out that studying opioid abuse is really controversial," Doleac wrote in a March 7 Twitter post.

Read the paper in full below and let us know if you agree or disagree with the findings in the comment section.

The Moral Hazard of Lifesaving Innovations: Naloxone Access, Opioid Abuse, and Crime

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