What Employers Need to Know About the Administration of Naloxone

naloxone kit

The College has developed frequently asked questions to support social workers and social service workers who may need to provide life-saving care by administering Naloxone to their clients.

Any individual, including a social worker or a social service worker, can administer Naloxone during a life-threatening emergency due to an opioid overdose. As an employer of social workers and/or social service workers, you should be up to date with the information and guidance around the administration of Naloxone.

Here’s a list of the most frequently asked questions the College receives about the administration of Naloxone:

Can social workers and social service workers administer Naloxone?

Social workers and social service workers are permitted to administer Naloxone. During a life-threatening emergency due to an opioid overdose, any individual can administer Naloxone.

If the administration of Naloxone is an expected part of the professional role of a social worker or social service worker, the College expects that members will have a formal delegation from a regulated health professional (e.g. a physician, nurse, pharmacist) in place before administering Naloxone. A formal delegation protects the public by ensuring that they receive Naloxone treatment from a competent and authorized professional.

What is a formal delegation for administering Naloxone?

A formal delegation is a direct order or a medical directive created by any regulated health professional. Employers can find more information on formal delegations and how to establish them in the College’s Practice Guidelines for Medication Practices, which includes an appendix on the administration of Naloxone.

If social workers and social service workers are required to administer Naloxone in their workplace as part of their role, employers should make sure that a formal delegation is in place for their employees.

Can social workers and social service workers distribute Naloxone kits?

Social workers and social service workers are permitted to distribute Naloxone kits, also known as Narcan kits.

The College requires members to be aware of their level of competence and professional scope of practice, as described in the Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice before carrying out any task related to the distribution of medications. 

For more information

In addition to the FAQs listed above, the College encourages employers to consult the following resources on the administration of Naloxone:

For further information about the administration of Naloxone, please contact the College’s Professional Practice Department at practice@ocswssw.org.