In this section you’ll find participants’ accounts of responding to overdose and the use of take-home naloxone. The people and stories in this section were carefully selected to highlight the diversity in backgrounds and experiences. While this website is not able to tell every possible story of overdose and take-home naloxone in Australia, it can show just how different people and their experiences are. In the stories can be found details of the many important concerns and circumstances our participants negotiated in saving lives in the community.
This section does not include the experiences of all participants. As it focusses on personal experiences of overdose and take-home naloxone, participants who had not encountered overdose or used naloxone do not appear. Overall, 26 of the 46 people who consume opioids are included. The remaining 20 had not encountered opioid overdose or in one case was not able to recount such events in enough detail to create a story for the site.
The stories presented here rely on participant reports of overdose. Some experiences may not conform to medical definitions of overdose, and some responses described may not reflect medical advice.
While these narratives were written from the interview transcripts and rely on their own words, some aspects have been paraphrased to improve coherence and readability. In making these changes we have worked hard to remain faithful to participants’ original meaning and intentions. Some experiences may also be presented in other sections of the website, using more detailed quotations.
Preferred Name: Jake
Age: Early 20s
Who is Jake?
Jake lives in Melbourne. He describes his ethnic background as ‘Australian’: like both his parents, he was born in Australia. Jake currently has no source of income and is homeless. While he hasn’t accessed take-home naloxone yet, he ‘wouldn’t mind carrying it around’ especially because it saved his friend’s life recently.
Jake describes an occasion when he took some oxycodone with friends and overdosed. They were sitting in a car, and he was in the driver’s seat when he took an oxycodone tablet and overdosed. One of his friends moved him to the back seat of the car and drove them to a hospital, where doctors revived him with insulin and naloxone. He woke up on the floor with four people restraining him; he felt disoriented and confused, but was fine.
(Note: strong language)
My mate jumped out the car, threw me in the back seat and whizzed us off to the hospital clinic. The doctors there gave me Narcan [naloxone], then I woke up on the floor with four people holding me down. I was disoriented, saying ‘I’ve got to go, I’ve got to go’, because I was confused and also because my mates and I had heaps of weed [cannabis] on us. I’d woken up not knowing what was going on. I felt spaced out and like I needed to get out of there, but I was okay. That was the only time I’ve overdosed.
I wouldn’t mind carrying around a Narcan Minijet [prefilled syringe]. Then if a mate overdosed, I’d have something to save his life. Just a couple of weeks ago, a mate was carrying Narcan with him and he used it when one of the boys dropped [overdosed] while they were in a toilet in the city. He got the Narcan out and injected him, and bang, he saved his mate’s life. The guy was in a daze afterwards, but he was fine. I rocked up about five minutes later and saw him.
Asked whether he would like to learn more about naloxone in the future, Jake had mixed feelings about it. Having no income, he was concerned about cost, but said, ‘I suppose I might one day, yeah […]’.
Reflecting similar concerns to Zippy and Lenny, Jake (M, early 20s, Vic, non-prescribed opioids) explains that the unreliable quality of heroin increases the risk of overdose.
Depends on your habit and how much you use. Some people, you know, like I can go and score a $30 or a $50 worth and, I mean for me, that would usually smash me. Then you go to other people and that wouldn’t even touch the sides for them […] The risk of overdose, because if you are buying [heroin] off the street, you don’t know how good the quality is going to be. Like, your normal intake of that particular batch could vary.
Jake (M, early 20s, Vic, non-prescribed opioids) says that take-home naloxone could be used to save the lives of his friends.
Well I wouldn’t mind carrying [Narcan] around yeah. […] Well, I mean if a mate overdoses then I’ve got something to save his life. It happened to one of my mates just a couple of weeks ago and he saved his mate’s life. He had Narcan on him and one of the boys dropped. It was actually in [a Melbourne CBD] toilet and [my friend] was there. Yeah he had it [naloxone] on him and bang. I rocked up five minutes later. [And how was he after?] He was dazed, he was in a daze, but he was fine.