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16 November 2021

New Phone Line to Help Tackle Scotland’s Overdose Epidemic

We Are With You Launch ‘Never Use Alone’ Free Phone Line to Reduce Drug-Related Deaths in Glasgow and the Ayrshires

Shocking figures released in the summer revealed that drug-related deaths in Scotland are three and a half times that for the UK as a whole, and higher than that of any European country.

Scotland has seen a year on year increase in drug-related deaths, with recent data confirming that people found alone accounted for 44 percent of deaths. As part of its response to the drugs epidemic, charity We Are With You will launch ‘Never Use Alone’—a new phone line backed and funded by the Scottish government—to mitigate the often deadly risks associated with using drugs alone. In the first instance, the service will be available in Glasgow and the Ayrshires starting on 16 November. This will then be rolled out across Scotland.

The phone line has been developed in consultation with the Scottish Ambulance Service, including relevant local authorities and aims to help anyone who wants to stay safer when using drugs in the catchment area. The initial areas have been selected to understand how the service works in both urban and rural parts of the country.

Drawing on We are With You’s experience of managing both physical and virtual services—and learnings from similar successful initiatives in North America—the anonymous phone line has the potential to prevent the harmful effects of using alone. The service is well-placed to target people who may be concerned about the risks of using alone and may want but cannot access support.

The free telephone line will:

  • Establish crucial information such as what substances have been used today, what they are intending to use, where the person is located and if they can leave their door unlocked.
  • Alert the emergency services should they become unresponsive
  • Stay on the line until help arrives

Commenting on the new service, Steven Norman, We Are With You Lived Experience Staff Member, said:

"I think it's a fantastic resource for individuals. It's good to see the Scottish Government and We Are With You thinking outside the box in regards to harm reduction interventions. This will surely save lives and reduce the shocking figures for drug related deaths in Scotland.

“I always felt alone when using so knowing that there is a safety net against unintentional overdose is hugely beneficial. Never Use Alone information needs to get to the people who need it and fast.

“If we can save lives from unintentional overdose, then actively encourage engagement in support services we can change peoples lives helping them to become valued members of society like myself and in turn breaking down the stigma associated with addiction".

Andrew Horne, Executive Director, We Are With You in Scotland, said:

“The scale of the problem we’re facing in Scotland demands urgent, radical action. Every life lost to drugs is an unacceptable tragedy. This phone line is about keeping people safe and is a vital part of the much wider solutions we need to bring down this country’s staggeringly high rates of drug related deaths. As well as keeping people safe, we hope it will help to connect people with the support they need to help them make positive changes to their lives.”

Drugs Policy Minister Angela Constance, said:

“I welcome this phone line which will be operated by We Are With You and which will undoubtedly play a part in tackling Scotland’s drug deaths crisis.

“Many of those people who have lost their life while using drugs were alone at the time and I encourage people to take advantage of this service – the first of its kind in Europe – to help them stay safe.

“While backing this service, we are also continuing to work to overcome existing legal barriers to implement safe consumption rooms in Scotland.

Further Information

For media inquiries and more information about the project, please contact pressoffice@wearewithyou.org.uk

We Are With You is one of the largest providers of drug and alcohol services in Scotland. We are also responsible for the Know the Score, Drinkline and our UK-wide webchat service. Backed and funded by the Scottish government, the telephone line is being trialed in Greater Glasgow and the Ayrshires. The “Never Use Alone” free phone line number is 0808 801 0690.