An exploratory study of opioid drug overdoses and how law enforcement officers are affected in their personal and professional lives
Keywords:Opioids, overdose, Narcan, police officers
This exploratory study measures the impact on law enforcement as it relates to police officers responding to opioid drug overdoses. A brief survey was developed to explore how responding to opioid overdoses impacted police officers’ personal and professional lives. The results indicate that 59% of the police officers surveyed (n=262) had responded to an opioid overdose while on duty and 46% (n=204) involved a fatal overdose. Data showed that 32.7% (n=139) of the officers indicated they felt uneasy regarding the potentially adverse effects of responding to an opioid overdose and 31.8% (n=135) experienced a heightened awareness of the danger to themselves or other family members. A preliminary examination of the data indicates that opioid overdose calls may be problematic for law enforcement, provoking anxiety and impacting their family lives. The limited study revealed a small percentage of officers experienced hopelessness or feelings that responding to opioid overdose incidents is futile. Post reactions such as anxiety were documented after administering Narcan® to victims of an overdose when children were present. There is a need for further research to gather additional data. At the time of this study, the use of Narcan by law enforcement was rare. Future research is recommended in assessing the anxiety level of officers administering Narcan versus other life-saving activities.