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The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

TFN is published by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, Mansfield Traquair Centre, 15 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh, EH3 6BB. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation. Registration number SC003558.

Third sector champions overdose reversal drug as awareness day is marked

This news post is about 1 year old

Naloxone is proven to save lives

Campaigners and charities in Scotland are calling for wider use of overdose reversal drug naloxone in a bid to stem the country’s drug deaths crisis.

It comes on International Overdose Awareness Day which is held on 31 August each year, aiming to raise awareness of overdose and reduce the stigma of a drug-related death.

The Scottish Government with the Scottish Drugs Forum has launched a public information campaign with media advertising and in shopping centres and rail and bus stations.

Campaigner’s want people to go to the StopTheDeaths website to learn how to identify when someone is experiencing an overdose and how to get a naloxone kit and be trained to use it.

Writing for TFN, Angela Constance, minister for drugs policy, said: “From all my experience in government and as a front-line social worker I know that the third sector can connect with people who statutory services might struggle to reach.

“As we have seen during the pandemic, the third sector can react quickly and flexibly and it is often the place where innovation can be led from the front.”

Kirsten Horsburgh, strategy coordinator for drug death prevention at Scottish Drugs Forum, said: “In the time people wait for an ambulance the first steps can be made that can save that person’s life. Recognising that someone may be experiencing an overdose, dialling 999 and administering naloxone are all part of the response that gives that person the best chance of recovery. ”

Last year drug deaths in Scotland hit a record high for the seventh year in a row, when 1339 people died. In Glasgow the total increased to 291 deaths.

Justina Murray, the chief executive at Scottish Families Affected by Alcohol & Drugs, said she is hugely supportive of any measures which increase the distribution of naloxone across the country.

The charity was able to set up Scotland’s first national click and deliver naloxone service, which enables anyone likely to witness an overdose to contact it for a kit.

These are posted in a plain envelope direct to their home address, offering a discreet, quick and convenient service.

Murray said: “Naloxone isn’t the only solution to Scotland’s heart-breaking total of drug deaths, however it is a vital part of our response.

“Previously it has been difficult for many people who are likely to witness an overdose to access a kit - including family members, members of the public and individuals using drugs.

“Before the pandemic, naloxone was generally only available in alcohol and drug treatment services and community pharmacies.

“The stigma, shame and secrecy of substance use prevents many people from approaching these locations for naloxone, including those who are already involved with treatment services or who don’t want contact with services.”

Since May 2020 the charity has issued 615 naloxone kits, including 206 to family and friends, 238 to professionals, 105 to members of the public and 66 to individuals at risk of overdose. Some 131 of these were a repeat supply, and of these 82 have been used on an individual to reverse an overdose.

One parent who used the service said: “Don’t know why I have never known about this before.  My son has been using heroin for 20 odd years.  I go to his appointments and not once have we been offered this. 

“He has overdosed many times over the years and my friend lost her son three weeks ago to overdose while waiting on an ambulance. 

“Now I have comfort knowing that I can intervene while waiting for an ambulance. 

“This service will save lives and you should be shouting it from the roof tops.”

Murray added: "We are so proud of our click and deliver naloxone service and would encourage anyone in Scotland to carry naloxone and be able to save a life."



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