Wasted, overdosed, or beyond saving - to act or not to act? : Heroin users' views, assessments, and responses to witnessed overdoses in Malmö, Sweden

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Wasted, overdosed, or beyond saving - to act or not to act? : Heroin users' views, assessments, and responses to witnessed overdoses in Malmö, Sweden

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Publication Article, peer reviewed scientific
Title Wasted, overdosed, or beyond saving - to act or not to act? : Heroin users' views, assessments, and responses to witnessed overdoses in Malmö, Sweden
Author(s) Richert, Torkel
Date 2015
English abstract
Background: Overdose is a significant cause of death among heroin users. Frequently, other heroin users are present when an overdose occurs, which means the victim's life could be saved. There is a lack of studies that, based on heroin users own stories, examine their views, assessments, and responses to witnessed overdoses. Methods: The study is based on qualitative interviews with thirty-five heroin users who witnessed someone else's overdose. Results: The heroin users generally had a positive attitude towards assisting peers who had overdosed. A number of factors and circumstances, however, contribute to witnesses often experiencing resistance to or ambivalence about responding. The witness's own high, the difficulty in assessing the seriousness of the situation, an unwillingness to disturb someone else's high, uncertainty about the motive behind the overdose and whether the victim does or does not want assistance as well as fear of police involvement, were common factors that acted as barriers to adequate responses in overdose situations. Conclusion: The fact that being high makes it difficult to respond to overdoses, using traditional methods, argues for simpler and more effective response techniques. This can include intranasal naloxone programs for heroin users. The findings regarding the uncertainty about the intention of the overdose victim and the sensitivity to the experience of a good high argue for more up-front communication and discussion amongst using peers so that they can make their intentions clear to each other. Issues like this can be addressed in overdose education interventions. Overdose prevention measures also need to address the fact that fear of the police acts as a barrier to call emergency services. (C) 2014 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.drugpo.2014.07.006 (link to publisher's fulltext)
Publisher Elsevier
Host/Issue International Journal of Drug Policy;1
Volume 26
ISSN 0955-3959
Pages 92-99
Language eng (iso)
Subject(s) Overdose
Heroin users
Overdose prevention
Heroin high
Qualitative
interviews
Humanities/Social Sciences
Research Subject Categories::MEDICINE
Handle http://hdl.handle.net/2043/19732 (link to this page)

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