In Scotland, high-risk opioid patients began obtaining the naloxone overdose drug in take-home kits as part of a government initiative.
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In 2019, in a year when Scotland reported its worst ever overdose death figures, the Scottish Ambulance Service was called to about 5,000 cases where naloxone was administered.
The startling figures for 2019 prompted the health minister’s resignation in December 2020 and the formation by Angela Constance of a dedicated ministerial role for drug policy.
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But now the scheme, sponsored by the Opioid Death Taskforce, ensures that after a 999 call, kits are given to the victim, a friend or a family member so that they can be administered in case of a potential overdose.
Drug Policy Minister Angela Constance said, ‘Tools such as naloxone have an important role to play as part of a wide variety of interventions to combat the public health epidemic caused by drug deaths.
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Naloxone is proven to be a very powerful tool for preventing overdose deaths. There is a risk that a family or friend would be able to administer it at an early stage of the seizure by supplying take-home kits under such conditions, raising the likelihood of a good outcome.
“Obviously, we want to help people long before they get to the point of a life-threatening overdose. That’s why we’re launching a new national mission to reduce drug deaths, which will focus on people with lived experience and their families.”
The Scottish government published estimates in December showing that overdose deaths in 2019 increased to 1,264, 77 more than the year before.
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Dr. Jim Ward, Scottish Ambulance Service (SAS) Medical Director, said, “This new and important initiative to provide people with home-to-home naloxone after a non-fatal overdose will help reduce potential future harm and death for vulnerable individuals affected by drug use.”
“SAS is also strengthening its relationship with local drug services and driving forward plans to refer our patients affected by drug use to these local services, which play a key role in supporting and preventing drug-related harm.”