Research shows that most heroin addicts, at some point in their drug using careers, accidentally overdose and that accidental overdose is the most common cause of death in this group. As most such overdoses are witnessed by other drug users or their carers, it is argued that providing ‘take home naloxone’ (a fast-acting opiate antagonist) to them (as potential witnesses to an overdose) can save lives. Despite the robust evidence base to support the feasibility and effectiveness of this strategy, its integration into clinical practice in the UK is still very limited. Here, we report the case of a heroin addict who used his take home naloxone to manage an overdose and thereby saved a life.
Through this account, we hope to raise clinicians’ awareness of this simple yet life-saving intervention. We will also briefly discuss the evidence base for take home naloxone with particular reference to the UK and will also give some practical guidance to clinicians on prescribing take home naloxone.