Opioid misuse and overdose deaths from opioids are serious health issues in the United States. Overdose deaths involving prescription and illicit opioids doubled from 2010 to 2016, with more than 42,000 deaths in 2016 [CDC 2016a]. Provisional data show that there were more than 49,000 opioid overdose deaths in 2017 [CDC 2018a]. In October 2017, the President declared the opioid overdose epidemic to be a public health emergency.
Naloxone is a very effective drug for reversing opioid overdoses. Police officers, emergency medical services providers, and non-emergency professional responders carry the drug for that purpose. The Surgeon General of the United States is also urging others who may encounter people at risk for opioid overdose to have naloxone available and to learn how to use it to save lives [USSG 2018].
NIOSH developed this information to help employers and workers understand the risk of opioid overdose and help them decide if they should establish a workplace naloxone availability and use program.
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