Police responses to drug overdoses may contribute to more positive outcomes for both victims and communities at large. Police responses can be seen as a medical first response but lacking is clarity around how to do it better to avoid overdose situations. This led to a study on how to find solutions to overdose deaths and prevent outbreaks of people overdosing.

Limited Resources

Police officers are often limited in resources and protocol when it comes to responding to cases of overdose. In response to police needing help with overdoses, some officers expressed negative attitudes towards those who used drugs. A more empathic attitude could help with frustration that comes with lack of drug treatment, the cycle of abuse and ease of access in the community to drugs.


In some cases, police response to overdoses may include administration of Naloxone or Narcan which is the standard antidote used by paramedics to stop the overdose and start breathing in victims of overdose situations. Prevention and response is seen as part of police response and community relations building. Prescription drug overdoses have been going up steadily for the eleventh straight year. Deaths due to prescription painkillers are more than combined deaths due to cocaine and heroin.

Oxy and Other Drugs

Oxycodone, hydrocodone and fentanyl are the most common types of drugs responsible for unintentional overdoses. In rural and suburban areas, the rates of overdoses on prescription painkillers are seeing the highest increases. Where less immediate access to medical help is available, police response to overdose is seen as a critical intervention piece. Public education is important and key to helping keep the deaths down and support positive policing techniques around overdoses.

Police are only able to respond to overdoses in the way that is best known which is through public education of the dangers of drugs and also through use of Narcan to support individuals who overdose. When police are involved in helping individuals with an overdose, it can be helpful for them to have increased training on how to be more empathic towards individuals who use drugs rather than seeing the people as caught up in the cycle of addictive behavior. Courts can also do more to support police with different policies towards individuals caught up in addictive behavior and provide more support for treatment options to help individuals recover. When a person receives treatment he or she is more likely to stay clean and sober than when punitive measures are used in the criminal justice system.


Hired Power offers support to individuals seeking treatment for addiction. If your loved one is struggling with drugs and alcohol, call us at 800-910-9299 to find out how we can help you get on the right path to recovery.