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Overdose Prevention and Response

This book, created by experienced overdose trainers and reviewed by peers and medical professionals, is intended as a resource for the development and implementation of overdose prevention and response programs by drug user activist groups and harm reduction organizations in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

It combines practical information about overdose risk with strategies for preventing, identifying, and responding effectively. It includes descriptions of commonly used drugs, sample training curricula, and a collection of “tips from the field” from experienced overdose trainers and harm reduction experts. We hope it will empower people who use drugs, harm reduction organizations, social workers, family and friends of drug users, and all others interested in acting to prevent and respond to overdose.


In general, any person who uses drugs should consider the following seven tips:

  1. Understand your tolerance and be aware of when it might be lower (for example, when you have not been using for a while).
  2. Avoid mixing drugs, and mixing drugs and alcohol.
  3. Recognize that medications prescribed by a doctor may interact with street drugs and cause an overdose.
  4. Take care of your health: eat well, drink plenty of water, and sleep.
  5. If you have a new dealer or unfamiliar supply, use a small amount at first to see how strong it is.
  6. Avoid using alone: if you overdose, you want someone around to help.
  7. You’re less likely to overdose from snorting or smoking drugs
    than injecting them.

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