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Prevention of lethal opioid overdose in the community

Phillip Coffin, MD, MIA
Section Editor
Andrew J Saxon, MD
Deputy Editor
Richard Hermann, MD


Drug overdose, principally due to opioids, is rising in many developed countries; in the United States, for example, it has been the leading cause of injury-related death since 2009. The incidence of opioid overdose increased dramatically between 1990 and 2010. Opioid overdose is defined as opioid-induced respiratory depression such that assistance is needed to revive the person.  

Interventions found to reduce mortality from opioid overdose include: treatment of opioid use disorder with an opioid agonist [1], provision of naloxone to lay persons [2], and establishment of a supervised injection facility [3].

This topic describes prevention of lethal opioid overdose in the community. The epidemiology, pharmacology, screening, assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of opioid use disorder are discussed separately. Management of intoxication and withdrawal from opioids are also discussed separately, as is abuse of prescription drugs.

(See "Opioid use disorder: Epidemiology, pharmacology, clinical manifestations, course, screening, assessment, and diagnosis".)

(See "Psychosocial interventions for opioid use disorder".)

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Literature review current through: Nov 2017. | This topic last updated: Apr 10, 2017.
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