Charity calls for uptake of overdose kits

Heroin

A new report has found less than half of Scotland’s heroin users have access to Naloxone

11th August 2020 by Gavin Stuart 0 Comments

More than half of Scotland’s heroin users still do not own a life-saving “overdose kit”, new figures have revealed.

The report, from Public Health Scotland, found there were an estimated 453 Naloxone kits for every 1,000 “problem drug users” in the country – meaning 547 are more at risk of dying from an overdose.

Naloxone is a drug which reverses the effects of an overdose from opioid drugs such as heroin or morphine. Since 2011, users have been able to obtain the drug, along with training on how to administer it, from community outlets and prisons.

The report found that over 12,000 Naloxone kits were issued in Scotland in 2018/19 – a 42% increase on the previous year. Repeat orders accounted for 5,742 of the kits, and of these, 27% were given out after a previous kit had been used to treat an overdose.

Drug charity We Are With You welcomed the uptick in demand and urged anyone who uses opioids to ensure they have a kit available.

Executive director Andrew Horne said: “The increase is hugely encouraging and is testament to the hard work of health services across Scotland. Take-home Naloxone kits can mean the difference between life and death to many people who use opioids and those close to them. 

“A law change in 2015 means these kits can be handed out and carried without prescription. With Scotland's drug deaths at a record high, making sure Naloxone is in the hands of those who need it is more important than ever.

He continued: “There can be many reasons for overdose, such as stronger batches of heroin, ageing users with health issues, or former prisoners on release whose tolerance has dropped. Whatever the reason, anyone can save a life with Naloxone. It is low-cost, easy to use, has zero potential for misuse and it can save lives.

“But, despite the increase, the reach of take-home Naloxone is still under half of people at risk. And the more people who have it in Scotland’s communities, the better.”

Naloxone kits are pocket-sized devices that allow the drug to be administered through injection or nasal spray. They stabilise a person during overdose, extending the critical time until an ambulance can arrive.

Anyone interested in learning how to use Naloxone can contact their local drug treatment provider or talk to a trained advisor via We Are With You’s online webchat service.