The government has announced a package of funding to tackle drug misuse including £80m for treatment services, although experts have said the investment is “a drop in the ocean” compared with cuts suffered by the sector in the last 10 years. Ministers have pledged to provide naloxone, which reverses breathing difficulties brought about by opioid use, to “every heroin user in the country that needs it”.
On a Sunday afternoon last July, a group of volunteers met under a freeway bridge in East Oakland and unloaded 30,000 syringes, pipes, cookers, alcohol swabs, and other drug equipment from the back of a pickup truck. They also unloaded food—pasta with tuna, soft pretzels and croissants in sandwich bags—hygiene kits, and Narcan, a life-saving drug used to reverse opioid overdoses.
Administering naloxone, issuing rescue breath and supervising injections, are all close-contact work, which can be risky at the moment, according to Jade Boyd, a professor in the department of medicine at the University of British Columbia. “There is an increased risk of infection for diseases like COVID when you’re working in a high-contact space,” she said.
Since May 2020, a charity in Scotland has issued 187 naloxone kits — an emergency antidote for overdoses caused by heroin and other opioids. A “click-and-deliver” naloxone service has provided 187 take-home naloxone kits to people’s homes since the service began in May 2020, the charity offering the service has said.
Take-home Naloxone will be given to people at high risk of accidental overdoses, in a move designed to reduce the number of drug deaths. This will include those who have been resuscitated by the Scottish Ambulance Service (SAS) following an accidental overdose. The Scottish Ambulance Service (SAS) is handing out the kits, which can reduce the risk of a fatal overdose from opiates, in a programme funded by the Drug Deaths Taskforce.
New York City, like the rest of the country, is facing a historic overdose crisis driven by illicit fentanyl adulterating the unregulated drug supply and exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. In response, the city’s health department has made naloxone, the overdose-reversal medication, available free-of-charge at chain pharmacies in highly impacted neighborhoods from which the city has historically divested.
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