Accidental drug overdose is currently the leading cause of injury-related death in the United States for people between the ages of 35-54 and the second leading cause of injury-related death for young people. Drug overdose deaths now exceed those attributable to firearms, homicides or HIV/AIDS.
Most of these deaths are preventable, but the "tough on crime" rhetoric of the drug war and the stigma associated with drug use have blocked the widespread adoption of life-saving overdose prevention policies, including Good Samaritan 911 legislation and distribution of the overdose reversal medication naloxone.
DPA is leading the national effort to reduce drug overdose deaths by promoting sensible solutions and better policy at the state and federal level.
Denise Cullen, executive director of GRASP (Grief Recovery After a Substance Passing) and Broken No More, became an outspoken advocate for drug policy reform after losing her son, Jeff, to an overdose in 2008.
Overdose Prevention Saves Lives
Overdose prevention programs are extremely cost effective, save lives and deliver critical resources and information to people most at risk of experiencing an overdose. While most current overdose prevention efforts focus on opioid overdose, DPA is seeking policy solutions that would help save the lives of people using all types of drugs.
The Drug Policy Alliance is working to pass federal legislation that would monitor overdose trends, support overdose research and allocate much-needed federal funding to states, cities, tribal governments and community-based groups for life-saving overdose prevention programs. Federal aid is urgently needed to make the overdose reversal drug naloxone more widely available.
Naloxone (also called Narcan) is an inexpensive, generic drug that works to reverse an opioid overdose by restoring breath to unconscious overdose victims. It has been used with efficacy and safety in emergency rooms and ambulances in the United States for over forty years.
Our overdose prevention work on the state level (see what's happening in California
) includes promoting naloxone distribution and 911 Good Samaritan legislation
that allows those present when an overdose occurs to call for help without risking criminal punishment for themselves or the person experiencing an overdose.