Scotland drugs deaths: New naloxone campaign to tackle grim toll

A new campaign is being launched to increase public awareness of a life-saving treatment which can reverse a drugs overdose.

Police officers have been trained to use naloxone

The Scottish Government and Scottish Drugs Forum (SDF) have teamed up to improve information about naloxone which can prevent deaths in the case of opioids overdoses. It comes after shocking figures last month confirmed Scotland’s reputation as having the worst drug deaths rate in Europe.

TV, radio and billboard adverts as part of the Stop The Deaths campaign will encourage people to go online to learn the signs of an overdose, as well as how to get and use a naloxone kit.

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The campaign is being launched on International Overdose Awareness Day, which will also see a ceremony take place outside Holyrood.

Campaigner Peter Krykant will bring the van which he uses to run a drugs consumption facility to the Scottish Parliament, and there will also be a wreath laying ceremony to remember those who had died as a result of an overdose.

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Drugs policy minister Angela Constance said: “Firstly, on International Overdose Awareness Day I want to pass on my sincere condolences to all those who have been affected by a drug-related death.”

Scotland suffered a record 1,339 drugs deaths in 2020, with fatalities having risen for the seventh year in a row.

Ms Constance said that the number of drugs deaths in Scotland “is heart-breaking” adding that she is “determined” the £250 million the Scottish Government has committed to tackling the problem will “make a difference”.

The minister added: “That is why I am pleased to launch this joint campaign with Scottish Drugs Forum to encourage the public to get involved in our national mission and equip themselves to save a life.

“It will help inform a wider audience of what naloxone is, how it works and how they can use it in an emergency.

“We hope that the campaign will also help reduce the stigmatisation of people at risk of overdose and people with a drug problem more broadly.”

Ms Constance said: “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 I hope as many people as possible will visit the ‘Stop The Deaths’ website to find out more.”

Meanwhile Kirsten Horsburgh, strategy coordinator for drug death prevention at Scottish Drugs Forum, stated: “People can feel overwhelmed and powerless in the face of the numbers of overdose deaths in Scotland but these deaths are preventable.

“Even in the moment that people encounter someone who may be experiencing an overdose it is important that people do not feel helpless.

“With a little knowledge and training people can make a life-saving difference.

“In the time people wait for an ambulance the first steps can be made that can save that person’s life.

“Recognising that someone may be experiencing an overdose, dialling 999 and administering naloxone are all part of the response that gives that person the best chance of recovery. ”

She added: “In Scotland there is widespread access to naloxone kits and training and it’s crucial that as many people as possible get involved.”

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