Background: Scaling up overdose education and naloxone distribution (OEND), an evidence-based practice for reducing opioid overdose mortality, in communities remains a challenge. Novel models and intentional implementation strategies are needed. Drawing upon the EPIS model’s phases of Exploration, Preparation, Implementation, and Sustainment (Aarons et al. in Adm Policy Ment Health 38:4–23, 2011), this paper describes the development of the University of Kentucky’s unique centralized “Naloxone Hub with Many Spokes” approach to implementing OEND as part of the HEALing Communities Study (HCS-KY). Methods: To scale up OEND in eight Kentucky counties, implementation strategies were utilized at two levels: a centralized university-based naloxone dispensing unit (“Naloxone Hub”) and adopting organizations (“Many Spokes”). Implementation strategies varied across the EPIS phases, but heavily emphasized implementation facilitation. The Naloxone Hub provided technical assistance, overdose education resources, and no-cost naloxone to partner organizations. Implementation outcomes across the EPIS phases were measured using data from internal study management trackers and naloxone distribution data submitted by partner organizations. Results: Of 209 organizations identified as potential partners, 84.7% (n = 177) engaged in the Exploration/Preparation phase by participating in an initial meeting with an Implementation Facilitator about the HCS-KY OEND program. Adoption of the HCS-KY OEND program, defined as receipt of at least one shipment of naloxone, was achieved with 69.4% (n = 145) of all organizations contacted. During the Implementation phase, partner organizations distributed 40,822 units of naloxone, with partner organizations distributing a mean of 281.5 units of naloxone (SD = 806.2). The mean number of units distributed per county was 5102.8 (SD = 3653.3; range = 1057 − 11,053) and the mean county level distribution rate was 8396.5 units per 100,000 residents (SD = 8103.1; range = 1709.5–25,296.3). Of the partner organizations that adopted the HCS-KY OEND program, 87.6% (n = 127) attended a sustainability meeting with an Implementation Facilitator and agreed to transition to the state-funded naloxone program. Conclusions: These data demonstrate the feasibility of this “Hub with Many Spokes” model for scaling up OEND in communities highly affected by the opioid epidemic. Trial registration ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT04111939. Registered 30 September 2019, https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT04111939 .

Original languageEnglish
Article number72
JournalAddiction Science and Clinical Practice
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, The Author(s).


  • Implementation strategies
  • Naloxone
  • Opioid epidemic
  • Opioid overdose
  • Overdose education and naloxone distribution

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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