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11 August 2020

New figures reveal a boost in Scotland’s heroin overdose reversal kits - but more are needed

Figures released for Scotland today show a 42% increase in take-home Naloxone (the life-saving heroin overdose kit) - but at least half of people who use drugs still don’t have it.

The report by Public Health Scotland states that in 2018/19 12,135 Naloxone kits were issued in Scotland, compared to the 8,555 in the previous year - a 42% increase. However, at the end of 2018/19, the ‘reach’ of take-home Naloxone (based on the number of at-risk individuals supplied with kits between 2011/12 and 2018/19) was estimated to be 453 kits per 1,000 ‘problem drug users’.

Andrew Horne, who leads drug, alcohol and mental health charity We Are With You in Scotland, 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. 

“Naloxone kits are like defibrillators or epi pens; they’re pocket-sized and can be easily administered through an injection or nasal spray, preserving life in the crucial time until an ambulance arrives. 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.

Andrew went on: “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.”

If you are interested in learning how to carry and use Naloxone, contact your local drug treatment provider or you can talk to a trained advisor via We Are With You’s online webchat - www.wearewithyou.org.uk