Take home naloxone (THN) programs reduce mortality by training bystanders to respond to opioid overdoses. Clinical observation by the health care team at the Inner City Youth (ICY) program indicated that young adults appeared to enthusiastically participate in the THN program and developed improved relationships with staff after THN training. However, we found a dearth of literature exploring the experiences of young adults with THN programs. This study set out to address this gap and identify suggestions from the young adults for program improvement. The primary research question was “How do street-involved young people experience the THN Program in Vancouver, BC?”
The study was undertaken at the ICY Program. Two peer researchers with lived experience of THN were recruited from ICY and were involved in all phases of the study. The peer researchers and a graduate student facilitated two focus groups and five individual interviews with ICY program participants using a semi-structured interview guide. Audio recordings were transcribed verbatim. The cut-up-and-put-in-folders approach was used to identify emerging themes.
The themes that emerged were perceptions of risk, altruism, strengthening relationship with staff, access to training, empowerment, and confidence in ability to respond, and suggestions for youth-friendly training. These themes were then situated within the framework of the health belief model to provide additional context. Participants viewed themselves as vulnerable to overdose and spoke of the importance of expanding access to THN training. Following training, participants reported an increase in internal locus of control, an improved sense of safety among the community of people who use drugs, improved self-esteem, and strengthened relationships with ICY staff. Overall, participants found THN training engaging, which appeared to enhance participation in other ICY programming.
Young people perceived THN training as a positive experience that improved relationships with staff. Participant recommendations for quality improvement were implemented within the provincial program.