Naloxone is a short-acting opioid antagonist medicine that reverses the effects of opioid overdose.

The NSW Health Opioid Overdose Response and Take Home Naloxone (ORTHN) intervention aims to reduce the mortality and morbidity for people who use opioid drugs or medicines.

Trained health workers at needle and syringe programs and alcohol and other drugs services in NSW can supply naloxone at no cost to the consumer, carer or family member, and provide a brief intervention about how to use the medicine.

Two formulations of naloxone are provided in this intervention – a pre-filled syringe for injection and an intranasal spray.

A  research study developed and tested the naloxone intervention in six local health districts and networks and the Medically Supervised Injecting Centre. Based on the success of this trial, the intervention is now being introduced to other health services across NSW.

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Information for the community

What is naloxone?

Naloxone is a short-acting medicine that can temporarily reverse an overdose caused by opioid drugs (like heroin, or strong painkillers that contain morphine or oxycodone). A dose of naloxone can help a person to breathe properly and regain consciousness after they’ve had too much of an opioid drug. Even if naloxone is used, an ambulance should still be called by phoning triple zero (000).

Naloxone comes in a few different formulations. NSW Health is providing naloxone nasal spray and naloxone in pre-filled syringes ready for injection.

Who is take home naloxone for?

Anyone who is at risk of overdosing on opioid drugs, or witnessing an opioid overdose, should consider having naloxone at home, to start to reverse and overdose quickly, even before an ambulance arrives.

Who is at risk of an opioid overdose?

  • People on high doses of opioid pain medicines can be at risk of overdose.
  • People who use opioid drugs, have recently quit using, or have recently been released from prison are often at high risk of overdose.
  • People who use opioids in combination with other drugs or medicines are at risk of overdose.

Health services are also providing naloxone to people who live with or spend time with someone who uses opioid drugs. Remember that naloxone can only help if there’s another person nearby who knows how to use it.

Visit NUAA for ways to stay safe when using opioid drugs.

The Opioid Overdose Response & Take Home Naloxone Policy Directive and Procedures apply to NSW public health services and the MSIC for the management of clients at risk of experiencing or witnessing an opioid overdose.

legal instrument accompanying the policy directive and procedures enables specific kinds of workers to supply naloxone as part of the ORTHN intervention.

Eligible health workers at public health services and the MSIC must complete ORTHN training and credentialing requirements set out in the ORTHN Procedures before they are legally able to supply naloxone using the ORTHN intervention.

The training is being delivered to all local health districts, the Justice Health & Forensic Mental Health Network and MSIC in 2019 and 2020.

A key contact has been nominated from each district, network or service to schedule training and oversee local preparations. To find out who your contact is, email us at moh-naloxone@health.nsw.gov.au

ORTHN implimentation documents

When delivering ORTHN interventions, health workers in public health services and the MSIC need to use specific forms and documents. The ORTHN policy directive and procedures provide instruction about the use of these documents.

The ORTHN checklist and record of supply is a state form which needs to be ordered from Stream Solutions. Contact moh-naloxone@health.nsw.gov.au for information about how to order the form from Stream Solutions. 

Consumer Information Sheets can be ordered for free using the naloxone factsheet order form

More information

All enquiries should be directed to moh-naloxone@health.nsw.gov.au​

Information for non-government organisations

Non-government organisations (NGOs) will have a key role to play in increasing access to naloxone across NSW. Preparations are currently underway to enable NGOs to deliver the opioid overdose response and take home naloxone intervention.

More information

All enquiries should be directed to moh-naloxone@health.nsw.gov.au

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Page Updated: Thursday 31 October 2019
Contact page owner: Centre for Population Health