31 Jul 2012
Thousands of drug addicts across Scotland have been handed a drug which reverses the effects of a heroin overdose as part of a £500,000 scheme.
Naloxone is a tablet which can be taken by a heroin addict if they overdose.
It reverses the symptoms for around 20 minutes, allowing emergency medical help to be requested.
In the first year of the scheme 3445 home kits were handed out, 715 of which were given to those addicts leaving prison.
Concerns have been raised that the initiative will encourage heroin users to risk higher doses, knowing they will have a fall back if it goes wrong.
Around a tenth of those kits handed out last year were to those who had already been given one.
Scottish Conservative health spokesman and deputy leader Jackson Carlaw MSP said:
“We have long argued that the best approach to getting people off drugs like heroin is an abstinence-based approach.
“I appreciate that in standalone cases these kits could save the life of someone who has overdosed on heroin.
“But we have to consider the impact of handing thousands of these pills out to people who are hooked on such a dangerous drug.
“I would like to see some analysis on whether or not this encourages them to indulge in the drug, and indeed makes them feel even more secure in doing so.
“The scourge of drugs in our communities affects more than just the users; it cost millions to the NHS, creates victims of crime in every village, town and city in Scotland, and rips families and communities apart.
“We should be taking a hard line on heroin, not encouraging its use.
“The fact so many of these kits are to repeat users suggests there is no real control over how they are used.”
Notes to Editors
The full report can be seen here:
Below is a regional breakdown of Naloxone kits handed out in Scotland last year:
Ayrshire and Arran – 325
Borders – 144
Dumfries and Galloway – 36
Fife – 225
Forth Valley – 96
Grampian – 108
Greater Glasgow and Clyde – 623
Highland – 338
Lanarkshire – 239
Lothian – 520
Orkney – 0
Shetland – 15
Tayside – 61
From prison – 715
Total – 3445