Scotland’s drugs minister has welcomed the news that almost two-thirds of ambulance crews are able to distribute Naloxone to people likely to have or witness an overdose.
Naloxone is used for the emergency treatment of opioid overdoses and paramedics are now being trained to provide take-home kits to drug users and their friends or family.
Approximately 65% of Scottish Ambulance Service (SAS) staff are currently able to supply the medicine to reverse the effects of an overdose, with training taking place for the remaining crews during the rest of the year.
Angela Constance, Scotland’s minister for drugs policy, said: “I want to thank the Scottish Ambulance Service for the amazing job they do every day to save lives.
“The roll-out of Naloxone training has no doubt resulted in many lives being saved.
“Naloxone is one of a wide range of measures being used to address the public health emergency of drugs deaths, but it plays an important role and allows those supplying the kits to connect people who use drugs and their families with appropriate local services.”
Approximately 80 kits are being given out each month, according to the Scottish Government, intended for use on overdosing drug users until an ambulance arrives.
Speaking after meeting the SAS’s the three regional harm reduction leaders in Glasgow, Ms Constance added: “Of course, we want to help people long before they get to the point of a life-threatening overdose.
“We are working hard to increase the number of people in treatment and £4 million is going specifically towards the implementation of the new MAT (Medication Assisted Treatment) standards which ensure everyone has access to the support which works best for them.
“Same-day support will begin to be rolled out from this autumn with all of the standards in place by April next year.
“Over the next five years we will spend £250 million on addressing this crisis and I am determined that every penny of this additional funding will make a difference to all those affected by drug use in Scotland.”
Drug harm reduction lead for the west region, Lauren Sloey, said: “The Scottish Ambulance Service has a presence in every community in Scotland, 24 hours per day, 365 days per year.
“Due to the demand from patients experiencing overdoses from drug use across our communities, and reflecting our unique reach into people’s homes, we are focused on what we can do to positively influence a reduction in drug deaths across Scotland.
“As well as supplying take-home Naloxone at the point of non-fatal overdose, SAS is also connecting individuals directly with support and treatment services at the point they need it the most, turning our emergency responses into continuous care pathways for people who use drugs.
“This has the potential to benefit not only the individual but wider family and friends to optimise their health and wellbeing.”