Community Based Naloxone Kits

Using Design methods to transform complex user needs into innovative community partnerships


  • Gillian HARVEY University of Alberta, Canada
  • Stephanie VANDENBERG University of Calgary, Canada



design research, visual communication design, user centred design, information design, typography, human centred design


The opioid crisis in Alberta is a public health crisis. In 2016, more people died from an opioid poisoning than from motor vehicle crashes. Naloxone is an opioid antagonist which means that it can reverse an opioid overdose for a period of 30–60 minutes, at which point, the overdose may return. In December 2015, the Take Home Naloxone (THN) Program was rolled out in response to the opioid crisis. Under the renamed the Community Based Naloxone Kit Program (CBNP), naloxone kits are now available free of cost at many pharmacies and community clinics around Alberta. The wide availability has led to a new challenge—that the kits may be used by people who have received little to no training.
Some may encounter the kit instructions for the first time when there is an emergency in which they need to administer an injection urgently to someone who has passed out. Studies have found that most overdoses occur in the presence of another person—this provides an opportunity for someone to intervene. People often die from witnessed opioid poisonings because other people do not know what to do to help. A pilot study conducted through community partnerships involved 30 participants in two different urban centres (Edmonton and Calgary) who self identified as either experienced in substance use or friends/family of people with lived experience has revealed some interesting findings.
Qualitative observations and data collected in the initial pilot work show that end users are experiencing unique challenges in accessing opioid education and have challenges using instructions on how to administer naloxone in an overdose setting. User testing and observation of user behavior has great potential to support educational material for opioid awareness.Human-centred design approaches that gather information with and about people using antidote kits are urgently needed in order to mitigate risk and ensure successful administration of first aid and naloxone in an emergency.




How to Cite

HARVEY , G., & VANDENBERG, S. . (2019). Community Based Naloxone Kits: Using Design methods to transform complex user needs into innovative community partnerships. Conference Proceedings of the Academy for Design Innovation Management, 2(1), 1524–1533.