HIGH-RISK drug users in Scotland will be given the anti-overdose drug Naloxone in take-home kits, as part of a Government scheme.

The treatment can reduce the risk of death from an opiate overdose.

In 2019, the Scottish Ambulance Service was called to around 5,000 incidents where Naloxone was administered, in a year that saw Scotland report its worst drug deaths figures on record.

The shocking figures from 2019 prompted the resignation of the public health minister in December 2020, and the creation of a specific drugs policy minister position taken by Angela Constance.

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But now the scheme, funded by the drug deaths taskforce, means kits will be given to the victim, friend or family member after a 999 call, so that it can be administered in the case of a future overdose.

Drugs policy minister Angela Constance said: “As part of a wide range of measures to address the public health emergency of drugs deaths, tools like Naloxone play an important part.

HeraldScotland:

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“We know that Naloxone is a very effective way of reducing death by overdose. By providing take-home kits in certain circumstances, there is a chance that a relative or friend will be able to administer it early in the episode, increasing the prospects of a successful outcome.

“Of course, we want to help people long before they get to the point of a life-threatening overdose. That is why we are embarking on a new national mission to reduce drugs deaths, and one which will have people with lived experience, and their families, front and centre.”

In December, the Scottish Government released figures showing the number of deaths as a result of drugs increased to 1,264 in 2019, 77 more than the year before.

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Dr Jim Ward, medical director of the Scottish Ambulance Service (SAS), said: “This new and significant initiative issuing ‘take-home Naloxone’ to people at the scene after a non-fatal overdose will support the reduction of potential future harm and death for vulnerable people affected by drug use.

“SAS is also strengthening its relationship with local drug services and is progressing plans to signpost our patients affected by drug use to these local services who have a key role in support and prevention of drug-related harm.”