Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act awareness among people who use drugs in British Columbia, Canada
This article is related directly to the 6th International Law Enforcement & Public Health (LEPH) Virtual Conference in March 2021.
Introduction: To address the increase in opioid-related overdoses and deaths in Canada the Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act (GSDOA) was enacted in May 2017. The GSDOA aims to reduce concerns of police attending overdose events and encourage bystanders to call emergency services. This study explores GSDOA awareness and understanding and the factors associated with GSDOA awareness among people who use drugs (PWUD).
Methods: A cross-sectional drug and harm reduction service use survey containing GSDOA-specific questions was
conducted from October to December 2019 at 22 harm reduction supply distribution sites across British Columbia.
Descriptive analysis and multivariable logistic regression were conducted to assess correlates of GSDOA awareness.
Results: Overall, 54.2% (n = 315) of the eligible study sample (n = 581) reported being aware of the GSDOA. Of respondents reporting awareness, 45.2% and 61.3%, respectively, had a full understanding of when and to whom the GSDOA provides legal protection. In the multivariable model, GSDOA awareness was significantly associated with respondents identifying as cis-men (adjusted odds ratio (AOR) = 2.03 [95% CI: 1.30–3.19]); and those who obtained harm reduction supplies frequently (at least a few times/week) compared with those who did not obtain supplies or obtained them less frequently (AOR = 1.78 [95% CI: 1.14–2.76]).
Conclusion: More than 2 years after its introduction, approximately half of harm reduction site clients reported being aware of the GSDOA, and, of these, less than two-thirds had a complete understanding of who is legally protected by the GSDOA. Future GSDOA knowledge dissemination should target PWUD who are less engaged with harm reduction services to improve GSDOA awareness and understanding.
Copyright (c) 2021 Amiti Mehta, Amina Moustaqim-Barrette, Kristi Papamihali, Jessica Xavier, Brittany Graham, Sierra Williams, and Jane A. Buxton
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.