In 2018, 184 people died in Austria from drug overdoses. Most emergencies occur at home, where others present (must) act as first aiders. This does not guarantee a safe recovery; many of those affected have little to no first aid skills and potentially mishandle the situation.
Take Home Naloxone (THN) Pilot Project
2,000 Euro Prize 2020
Sector: Civil Society / Social Economy
Fields of action: Health, Addiction
Project owner: Caritas Kontaktladen und Streetwork im Drogenbereich
Responsible person: Mag. (FH) Martin Ladenhauf, Mag.a Milena Simonitsch
Our project’s clients are prepared for drug overdose emergencies and trained as first responders. They are also trained how to use the opiate suppressant, Naloxone and are equipped with Naloxone kits. Naloxone is a drug that revitalises breathing and the cardiovascular system within a few seconds.
The participants are opiate addicts, polysubstance addicts, and clients of the drug substitution programme. Life-saving drugs are given directly to those who benefit most from it. The interactive training courses are designed by doctors of the Caritas Marienambulanz clinic and Caritas Kontaktladen meeting point staff.
Forty-five clients to date have been trained and equipped with Naloxone kits. Above all, the project is saving lives with positive outcomes from the pilot project in Graz. Our clients are empowered; they gain new knowledge, awareness, and skills to help themselves against the risks of opiate consumption.
Training programmes of Caritas “Contact Shop” and Streetwork meeting points can be easily transferred to other settings, especially in prisons, drug therapy facilities, for relatives of opiate users, and addiction counselling staff. There are plans in action to offer these training courses in other regions of Austria.
Through this peer-to-peer project, drug addicts are able to provide critical first aid to their peers in an emergency. As a two-year pilot project, Take Home Naloxone demonstrates this community can best intervene to save lives − especially if drug consumption lies on the edge of the law and emergencies occur at home. Those affected reduce drug-related deaths or injuries with a socially innovative approach. As the first of its kind, the project will be implemented in additional regions and institutions in Austria.