Background: Prior work has suggested that first responders have mixed feelings about harm reduction strategies used to fight the opioid epidemic, such as the use of naloxone to reverse opioid overdose. Researchers have also noted that provider-based stigma of people who use opioids (PWUO) may influence perceptions of appropriate interventions for opioid use disorder (OUD). This study examined first responders’ perceptions of naloxone and the relationship between stigma of OUD and perceptions of naloxone. Methods: A web-based survey assessing perceptions of PWUO and naloxone was administered to 282 police officers and students enrolled in EMT and paramedic training courses located in the Northeastern United States. Bivariate and multivariable analyses assessed the relationship between variants of stigma (e.g., perceived dangerousness, blame, social distance, and fatalism) and self-reported perceptions of naloxone. Results: Participants, in the aggregate, held slightly negative attitudes toward the use of naloxone. Findings from multivariable modeling suggest that stigma of OUD, living in a rural area, and prior experience administering naloxone, were significantly and inversely related to support for the use of naloxone. Support for the disease model of addiction and associating drug use with low socioeconomic status were positively related to support for the use of naloxone. Conclusion: Efforts to alleviate perceptions of PWUO as dangerous, blameworthy, or incapable of recovery may increase first responders’ support for naloxone. To this end, first responder training programs should include instruction on the disease model of addiction, and more broadly, attempt to foster familiarity between PWUO and the professionals who serve them.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Medicine (miscellaneous)
- Health(social science)
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
- Psychiatry and Mental health