Drug service hands out more than 4,000 overdose reversal kits
- Credit: Archant
A body which provides drug and alcohol support services in Norfolk has handed out more than 4,000 kits which could save the lives of people overdosing on opioids.
Of the several thousand opioid overdose reversal kits, which each contain five doses of naloxone – an opioid antagonist which can temporarily remove opiod receptors from the body – handed out since April last year, 2,600 have been returned used.
Administered much like an Epipen, with a simple injection into a muscle, for many years naloxone was only used by the emergency services.
But a change in legislation in 2015 meant drug rehabilitation services were able to hand them out to be people who were at risk of overdosing, as well as their friends and family.
Taking two to three minutes to work, the effects of naloxone can last for around 20 minutes, buying critical time for anyone who has overdosed on heroin, methadone, morphine, codeine or another opioid.
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Change, Grow, Live, which runs the Norfolk Alcohol and Drug Behaviour Change Service, provides the naloxone kits and training on how to use them to people in Norfolk, as well as further afield.
Vicki Markiewicz, executive director of Change Grow Live, said: 'Since our services started across the east of England, we've given out nearly 4,000 naloxone kits.
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'And, across Change Grow Live we have had 2,600 used kits returned to our service centres, which suggests that these kits could have saved as many as 2,600 lives.
'In the past, people dealing with potential overdose situations had to resort to basic, ineffective methods, whereas Naloxone is a lifesaving drug that is completely safe and very effective at preventing fatal overdoses.
'In helping to prevent avoidable deaths from opioid overdose, Naloxone is giving people a second chance to engage with treatment services and have a drug-free life.'
In May last year it was revealed that Norwich has one of the highest heroin death rates of any city in England.
Between 2014 and 2016 figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) revealed heroin claimed the lives of 17 people in Norwich.
At 4.1 deaths per 100,000 people, the city has a higher rate of heroin deaths than Manchester, Liverpool and London.
It has the fifth highest rate of any city in England and Wales.