Naloxone is a medication that is used to treat overdoses from opioids such as fentanyl, heroin, and morphine. Given the current public health emergency and Naloxone’s life-saving properties, several federal and provincial initiatives have been taken to improve its access, including the ability for health professionals such as occupational therapists to distribute and administer it.
Occupational therapists work in a variety of practice settings with individuals who are at risk of an opioid-related overdose.
In a hospital setting:
Naloxone is a Schedule 2 (restricted) drug that, as such, cannot be administered by an occupational therapist. OTs must comply with their employer’s policies and procedures with respect to Naloxone administration.
Outside a hospital setting:
On March 22, 2016, Health Canada removed Naloxone Hydrochloride from the Prescription Drug List for emergency use outside hospital settings for opioid overdose. In such settings, OTs may find themselves in unexpected circumstances where they may be required to respond to a client or other individual who is experiencing an opioid overdose. An overdose is always an emergency. In such circumstances, an OT with access to Naloxone may administer the overdose medication.
In Alberta, any person who uses, knows someone who uses, or who is (or may be) around street drugs may obtain and, where appropriate, distribute Naloxone kits without a prescription. Kits, and training in their use, are widely available. [i]