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Preventing opioid overdoses in Europe

EMCDDA, Lisbon, October 2012

Publication type:

Technical reports


This report focuses on individual, situational and organisational risk factors for overdoses and how they can be modified to reduce fatal outcomes. Key risk and protective factors were categorised and their efficacy and the factors that facilitate or impede prevention were critically discussed by an expert panel. The review evidenced that many interventions may reduce overdose, particularly in settings where the drug user is in contact with treatment or emergency services. Specific interventions are proved to be effective (e.g. pharmacological treatment). At the population level, where many drug users are not in contact with services, overdose reduction depends on behavioural change (e.g. avoiding the mixture of opiates and depressant drugs). Overdose prevention involves personal and societal issues calling for multifaceted intervention.

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English (en)

Table of contents

  • Introductory note
  • Summary
  • Introduction
  • Overdose prevention: recommendations, actions and barrier
  • Discussion
  • Recommendations
  • References
  • Appendix 1: Analysis of overdose papers
  • Appendix 2. Protocol and Creation of the Drug Deaths Database in Fife
  • Appendix 3. A Case Vignette of a Typical Drug Death Victim in Fife 2009






About the EMCDDA

The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) is the reference point on drugs and drug addiction information in Europe. Inaugurated in Lisbon in 1995, it is one of the EU's decentralised agencies. Read more >>

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Page last updated: Thursday, 08 November 2012