Skip to main content
Rural Health Information Hub

SLV N.E.E.D.: Naloxone Education Empowerment Distribution Program

  • Need: Growing concern in rural Colorado communities regarding prescription and illegal opioid overdoses.
  • Intervention: Education efforts for health workers and the larger community, in addition to establishing a naloxone overdose reversal drug program.
  • Results: In addition to continuing to train nearly all first responders to administer naloxone, the organization provides harm reduction education in various community settings.


The Area Health Education Center (AHEC) program was created by Congress in 1971 to improve the supply and distribution of healthcare professionals via strategic partnerships with academic programs, communities, and professional organizations.

The San Luis Valley Area Health Education Center (SLVAHEC) is a non-profit organization serving 6 rural counties in Colorado. Governed by a local board, SLVAHEC maintains flexibility to quickly address regional needs and provide outreach effort mobilization within the community.

Partnering with its local healthcare workforce, SLVAHEC has initiated numerous educational opportunities including training workshops, guest speaker presentations geared to local providers, and support for youth programs introducing children to health careers.

SLVAHEC has originated several different prescription drug abuse prevention programs, including the naloxone information in their Naloxone Education Empowerment Distribution (NEED) program.

Naloxone immediately reverses all the effects of opioid overdose and gives enough time to rush a patient to the hospital for further treatment. The NEED project works to train, certify, and provide community members with necessary education and skills to successfully administer naloxone.

Learning from other harm reduction efforts in other areas of the U.S. (rural Indiana and Northwest Colorado), SLVAHEC currently continues work on prescription and street drug issues with grant applications geared to "harm reduction" efforts using evidence-based approaches such as syringe exchanges.

SLVAHEC's program benefits are further reviewed in this short video:

This program received initial funding from a 2015 Federal Office of Rural Health Policy Rural Opioid Overdose Reversal grant. The organization has continued its work with grant support from a Rural Health Opioid Program grant and most recently, a Rural Communities Opioid Response-Implementation grant.

Services offered

Educational convening sessions:

  • Consortium building and provider education.
  • SLVAHEC held 6 educational sessions on addressing opioid abuse. The first 4 were geared to provider updates on the opioid problem. The remaining sessions, for both providers and community stakeholders, provided an environment for collaboration and sharing insights into prescription prescribing patterns and problem solutions.
  • SLVAHEC held numerous other community workshops, including outside experts to work with community providers to implement new strategies addressing opioid addiction and abuse.
  • SLVAHEC established 3 different neighborhood meeting groups across its service area, allowing space for concerned citizens to also strategize around solutions for prescription drug abuse.

SLV N.E.E.D. program:

  • The N.E.E.D. project trains all first responders in the 6 county region to administer naloxone, a potentially lifesaving drug. After certification, naloxone is carried in vehicles or on the first responders themselves should they run into an overdose situation when responding to a call.
  • SLVAHEC is also working with local pharmacies who participate by stocking naloxone. N.E.E.D. certified administers can restock at participating pharmacies free of charge.


As the funding for the N.E.E.D. program ran from September 2015 to August 2016, early notable achievements included:

  • 4 participating pharmacies
  • Training of nearly all law enforcement agencies in the service region
  • Training focus for individual members of the community

The San Luis Valley "Narcotics Committee," composed of all five SLV healthcare organizations members, provided cornerstone work to address the opioid epidemic in the area. Further work was accomplished through additional grant funded projects, such as N.E.E.D., and has accomplished:

  • A universal provider/patient contract used to fight "doctor shopping," the patient behavior based in seeking multiple providers looking for opioids
  • Opioid prescription guidelines to be used by three hospitals, an FQHC, and a local mental health center to help curb the volume of prescribed pills
  • Continued regular meetings of neighborhood groups interested in prescription drug abuse


Adaption challenges, based on the philosophical viewpoint that naloxone access enables addicts, are addressed by the program's ultimate focus in saving lives.


  • If a naloxone program is the goal, know the product and know the pulse of the community
  • Local healthcare workforce and community stakeholder support is important for implementation
  • Clear articulation of the severity of the opioid overdose problem
  • Transparent communication and open discussion
  • Clear articulation that overdose problems are not limited to recreational users. Many involve chronically ill patients who take opioid prescriptions regularly for pain.
  • Clear articulation that the opioid problem developed slowly and will require patience and time for improvement
  • Build on collaboration potential that is a strength of close-knit rural communities

Contact Information

Eric T. Stevens, Executive Director
San Luis Valley Area Health Education Center

Pharmacy and prescription drugs
Prescription drug misuse

States served

Date added
April 19, 2016

Date updated or reviewed
August 24, 2020

Suggested citation: Rural Health Information Hub, 2020. SLV N.E.E.D.: Naloxone Education Empowerment Distribution Program [online]. Rural Health Information Hub. Available at: [Accessed 25 June 2024]

Please contact the models and innovations contact directly for the most complete and current information about this program. Summaries of models and innovations are provided by RHIhub for your convenience. The programs described are not endorsed by RHIhub or by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy. Each rural community should consider whether a particular project or approach is a good match for their community’s needs and capacity. While it is sometimes possible to adapt program components to match your resources, keep in mind that changes to the program design may impact results.