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Scots bus drivers may get heroin antidote training

Naloxone kits have already prevented several heroin deaths (picture posed by model). Picture: Julie Howden

Naloxone kits have already prevented several heroin deaths (picture posed by model). Picture: Julie Howden

BUS and taxi drivers are among those who will be trained to give heroin antidotes to drug addicts in a controversial move being considered by the Scottish Government.

Employees who deal closely with the public, including drivers, nightclub staff and festival first aiders would be shown how to deliver lifesaving treatment to those who overdose.

The radical scheme is being considered by the Scottish Government to reduce heroin deaths.

Naloxone, an antidote which can reverse an overdose, is already made available to addicts and their families to be used in emergencies.

Now the government is considering training bystanders, such as those working in public places, to be able to rescue heroin addicts if they fall unconscious or develop breathing problems.

But last night critics warned the move was an admission of defeat and that Scotland had lost the “war on drugs”.

Scottish Conservative chief whip John Lamont said: “The fact the Scottish Government is considering extending Naloxone to almost every corner of society suggests a large white flag is being waved in the war on drugs. It appears the SNP would rather prepare Scotland for an onslaught of heroin addiction than actually tackle the scourge head on.”

The recommendation has come in a major review of treatment services for heroin addicts.

An experimental £1m scheme giving drug addicts take-home kits of Naloxone is being credited with a reduction in heroin-related deaths.

Now a group of Scottish Government experts have called for the kits to be made widely available.

The move comes despite the fact concerns have been raised previously about whether making Naloxone available will simply encourage drug users to take more risks.

Almost 4,000 new heroin addicts were registered with services in the past 12 months.

However a new scheme supplying Naloxone to addicts and their friends and families has been deemed to have had a “positive impact” and potentially saved up to 350 lives.

A Service Evaluation by the Scottish Government, published last week, states more kits should be distributed and more people trained to administer them.

The move has been welcomed by drugs campaigners.

Vice chair of the National Forum on Drug-Related Deaths, Dr Saket Priyardashi, said: “It is encouraging to note not only the increasing roll out of take-home Naloxone throughout Scotland, but also some possible early evidence that it may already be having an impact. However, the full potential of the take-home Naloxone programme will only be realised if we continue to see more kits distributed.”

Minister for Community Safety, Roseanna Cunningham said all the report’s suggestions would be considered.

“We will be looking at all the policy suggestions to help inform the programme’s future development.”

 

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