Prison-based Naloxone-on-release pilot randomised controlled trial investigating the first 10% of a larger trial to reduce drugs-related deaths soon after release

Can we stop heroin injectors dying from an overdose if we give them a drug called Naloxone to carry around with them when they leave prison?

What is this study about?

December 2014 - Update for Trial Participants

May 2015 - Update for Trial Participants

Heroin overdose is one of the main causes of death for young adults. People in prison who have a history of injecting heroin stand a much greater chance of dying from a heroin overdose soon after they leave prison - for every 200 prisoners with a history of heroin injection who leave prison, one dies within two weeks because of an overdose.

The N-ALIVE trial will test whether a drug called Naloxone can help to stop heroin injectors dying from a heroin overdose within 12 weeks of release from prison.

Naloxone is an antidote to the effects of heroin and other opiates. If Naloxone is given to someone who has taken a heroin overdose, it can save their life. We want to know whether we could save lives by giving people who have a history of injecting heroin Naloxone to carry around with them when they leave prison. That way, if they take an overdose, friends or family could give them the Naloxone after calling an ambulance.

N-ALIVE is a new study. Researchers have never tried to do anything like this in this setting before, so we’re conducting a pilot trial first, to test our procedures. As well as beginning to assess whether Naloxone can help to stop heroin injectors dying from a heroin overdose, the N-ALIVE pilot trial will check:

  • whether prisoners are willing to participate
  • whether prisoners who have ever injected heroin are willing to take part
  • whether people who have agreed to take part are given their N-ALIVE pack when they are released from prison
  • whether people who are given Naloxone remember to carry it with them.

The N-ALIVE videos (below) are recommended for participants, their family and friends, and anyone wanting to know more about the trial. The first video gives an overview of the study. The second describes the contents of the packs given to trial participants and the third shows how naloxone can be administered.


Type of study

Randomised trial

Contact details


Who is funding the study?

The study is funded by the Medical Research Council. The N-ALIVE trial management team are independent of the prison system and work either for the Medical Research Council, the NHS or Kings College London. Click to view the N-ALIVE Principal Investigator statements of interest.

When is it taking place?

Randomisation to the N-ALIVE pilot trial stopped at 5pm on 8th December 2014.  Participant follow-up continues until at least 31st March 2015.

Where is it taking place?

Participants from 16 prisons in England were randomised to the N-ALIVE pilot trial.

Who is included?

People who: are 18 years old and over; have been in prison for 7 days or longer and are likely to be released within the next 3 months; have a history of heroin use by injection; live in Scotland, England or Wales.