Almost two thirds of Scotland’s ambulance paramedics have now been trained in supplying Take-Home Naloxone (THN) to people who may witness an overdose.
The roll-out of THN - which can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose - is being overseen by the Scottish Ambulance Service Drug Harm Reduction Leads, funded by the Drug Deaths Taskforce. This is an extension of the SNP Government’s existing Naloxone Programme.
This is a necessary development, as National Records of Scotland figures show that sadly, there were 1,339 deaths over 2020, an increase of 5% on 2019 and the highest figure on record.
Amongst the deceased are 39 North Ayrshire residents – a slight decrease on the 41 people who passed away last year.
A national mission on the crisis was announced in January following the appointment of Angela Constance MSP in December 2020 to the newly created post of Drugs Policy Minister.
The SNP Government will invest £250 million on addressing the emergency over the next five years.
An immediate priority is getting more people into treatment and £100 million will go towards improving and increasing the provision of residential rehabilitation while £4 million is being spent on the implementation of Medication Assisted Treatment.
The new standards ensure everyone has access to the support which works best for them, no matter where they live. Same day support will start to be rolled out from this autumn with all of the standards in place by April next year.
Minister for Drugs Policy Angela Constance MSP said:
“Once again, the statistics on drug-related deaths are heart-breaking. I offer my sincere condolences to everyone who has lost a loved one through drug use.
“We need to gather as much information as we can about drug use in Scotland and to that end, data on suspected drug deaths will be published quarterly from this September. This will ensure we can react more quickly and effectively to this crisis and identify any emerging trends.
“We are working hard to get more people into the treatment that works for them as quickly as possible. Without treatment, there is little hope of recovery so we are funding as many community and third sector initiatives as we can so that individuals have the widest possible choice and can opt for the support which suits them and their family.”
Kenneth Gibson MSP added:
“My thoughts are with those across North Ayrshire and Scotland who have lost a loved one or otherwise continue to be affected by drug misuse, in particular with those who have had to work through their grief during a global pandemic.
“It’s necessary that investment and support starts to deliver and as such it is heartening to know that the roll-out of THN is proceeding apace.
"First responders always give of their best. Having naloxone at hand is a real life saver; one that loved ones can use before the ambulance even arrives. When someone is overdosing, every second counts."
Image: Scottish Families Affected by Alcohol and Drugs