News Release

Increasing access to an overdose rescue drug does not reduce perceived risk of opioid use

Peer-Reviewed Publication

Society for the Study of Addiction

The US opioid crisis has resulted in most US states implementing laws to expand access to naloxone, a medication that reverses opioid overdose.  Some have expressed concern that increasing the availability of a medication to reverse overdose may facilitate opioid use by reducing the risk perceived by those who engage in drug use, or those who might engage in drug use.  A new study published in the scientific journal Addiction has found that naloxone access laws in the US have not reduced perceptions of how dangerous heroin use is in the US population.

This study used data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), which annually surveys almost 70,000 individuals aged 12 and older from across the US. Using data from 2004 to 2016 (during which the number of US states with naloxone access laws increased from 1 to 41), the study measured changes in perceptions of heroin risk as the overdose crisis unfolded and naloxone access laws were implemented. This study found that the expansion of naloxone access has not contributed to reductions in perceived risk that may allow growth in opioid use in the general population, among vulnerable populations, or inequitably across socio-demographics.

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For editors:

This paper is free to download for one month from the Wiley Online Library: or by contacting Jean O’Reilly, Editorial Manager, Addiction,

To speak with authors, contact Prof Brian C. Kelly at Purdue University by email ( or Prof Mike Vuolo at The Ohio State University by email (

Full citation for article: Kelly BC and Vuolo M (2021) Do Naloxone Access Laws Affect Perceived Risk of Heroin Use?: Evidence from National U.S. Data. Addiction: doi:10.1111/add.15682.

Funding: This work was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (grant # R21DA046447).

Addiction ( is a monthly international scientific journal publishing peer-reviewed research reports on alcohol, substances, tobacco, and gambling as well as editorials and other debate pieces. Owned by the Society for the Study of Addiction, it has been in continuous publication since 1884.

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