The processing of criminal offenders who struggle with substance use dependency issues related to opioids and heroin is a serious problem in the American Criminal Justice System. In response to this problem, criminal justice agencies across the nation have begun incorporating harm reduction strategies, such as having officers and first responders carry and administer Narcan. Further, many correctional agencies have started to partner with substance use treatment centers that offer Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT). To date, there has been little effort to systematically assess perceptions of Narcan and MAT among first responders. The goal of this project is to fill these gaps in the literature by assessing first responders’ (N = 282, e.g., police officers and EMT/Paramedics) attitudes, perceptions, and beliefs related to Narcan and MAT. Further, this work explores the impact of stigma on shaping these attitudes. Results show that first responders were relatively neutral in their attitudes toward the use of MAT and Narcan. Support for the disease model of addiction was found to be associated with more positive attitudes toward the use of Narcan and MAT. Moreover, findings show that practitioners who placed greater social stigma onto drug users reported less favorable attitudes toward the use of Narcan and MAT. These findings indicate the importance of implementing training courses on substance use addiction and anti-stigma campaigns directed at first responders and students who want to become first responders.
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