UMMS Affiliation

Department of Quantitative Health Sciences

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Community Health and Preventive Medicine | Public Health Education and Promotion | Substance Abuse and Addiction


BACKGROUND: To date, no studies have examined the extent of knowledge and perceptions of Good Samaritan Laws (GSLs) among young adults who engage in non-medical prescription opioid (NMPO) use. We sought to determine awareness of and factors associated with knowledge of Rhode Island's Good Samaritan Law (RIGSL) among young adult NMPO users.

FINDINGS: We compared the sociodemographic and overdose-related characteristics of participants who were aware and unaware of the RIGSL and determined independent correlates of knowledge of the RIGSL via modified stepwise logistic regression. Among 198 eligible participants, 15.7 % were black, 62.1 % white, and 20.7 % mixed or other race. The mean age was 24.5 (SD = 3.2) and 129 (65.2 %) were male. Fewer than half (45.5 %) were aware of the RIGSL; nonetheless, the majority (95.5 %) reported a willingness to call 911 in the event of an overdose. Knowledge of the RIGSL was associated with older age, white race, a history of incarceration, a history of injection drug use, lifetime heroin use, ever witnessing or experiencing an overdose, having heard of naloxone, knowledge of where to obtain naloxone, and experience administering naloxone (all p < 0.05). In the final explanatory regression model, lifetime injection drug use, having heard of naloxone, and knowledge of where to obtain naloxone were independently associated with awareness of the RIGSL.

CONCLUSIONS: Fewer than half of NMPO users surveyed knew of the RIGSL. Targeted harm reduction education is needed to address a vulnerable population of NMPO users who have not initiated injection drug use and are unaware of naloxone. Additional research is needed to determine how the effectiveness of GSLs could be improved to prevent overdose deaths among young adults.


Good Samaritan Law, Non-medical prescription opioid, Opioid, Overdose, Young adult

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Copyright © The Author(s). 2016. Open Access.

DOI of Published Version



Harm Reduct J. 2016 Jul 26;13(1):24. doi: 10.1186/s12954-016-0113-2. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Harm reduction journal

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.