SERVICES AND INDIVIDUALS who are likely to witness a drugs overdose are being urged to have their say in a consultation on who should be able to supply and administer the life saving drug naloxone.

During the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, families of those in Scotland who use drugs, as well as a wide range of professionals who work in non-drugs services, have been allowed to legally supply take-home naloxone kits to anyone likely to witness an overdose. This was made possible after a change in guidelines issued by the Lord Advocate.

In normal times, naloxone – which can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose and save lives – is only legally available across the UK on prescription or from certain drug treatment services without a prescription.

A four nations consultation has now been launched to amend current legislation and permanently widen access to naloxone to all those who come into contact with people who use drugs. This includes police, nurses, midwives and prison officers.

However, it also asks for suggestions of individuals or services that should be included in that list. The Scottish Government wants all those affected by drug use to have access to the medicine without fear of prosecution, including families of those at risk and a wide range of professionals.

The Minister for Drugs Policy, Angela Constance, said: “We are pleased to be part of this UK-wide consultation but we are anxious to see what is being proposed go further to allow not just drug and emergency services to legally supply naloxone, but also non-drugs services, families of those affected by drug use, and anyone else who is likely to witness an overdose.

“We have called on the UK Government to make these changes permanent ensuring all people who need it have access to this life saving drug. So I am asking all those affected by drug use, whether you use drugs, have a family member who does, or you have contact with someone at risk, through your work to please take the opportunity to have your say.

“We have seen fast and bold action being taken by ‘non drug services’ to access naloxone to protect those most at risk. One of them is Scottish Families Affected by Alcohol and Drugs (SFAD) who with the support of the Scottish Drugs Forum (SFD), set up a click and deliver service which has now been supplying kits to those who need them for over a year.

“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. Seeing those services and individuals being unable to continue to access the medication would be truly devastating.

“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.”

SDF Strategy Coordinator Kirsten Horsburgh said: “Following the announcement of the temporary Lord Advocate statement in early 2020, Scotland has introduced the supply of naloxone from numerous ‘non drug treatment’ services across the country. This has included homelessness services, family support services and criminal justice services to name a few.

“We already recognise the significant benefits for widening naloxone provision through these routes and strongly encourage people to complete the consultation to ensure the permanency of this approach. We cannot afford to be short-sighted or restrictive in our efforts to get naloxone in to the hands of those likely to witness an overdose.”

* The consultation runs until 28 September 2021 and can be accessed here.

* Source: Scottish Government