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In 2011 Scotland became the first country to fund a national policy of distributing the opiate-blocker naloxone to prevent deaths involving opiate-type drugs. According to this evaluation it did prevent deaths where the effect was most likely to be seen – in the weeks after release from prison.
STUDY 2016 HTM file
Reducing opioid-related deaths in the UK
The UK’s official drug policy advisers conclude that the ageing profile of heroin users with increasingly complex health needs has contributed to recent increases in drug-related deaths, and that to hold down the increases government must maintain investment in substitute prescribing programmes like methadone maintenance.
First robust analysis estimates that between 2008 and 2011, 880 opioid-related ‘overdose’ deaths were prevented each year by addiction treatment in England, reducing total deaths by over 40%.
English treatment systems perform at least as well as other countries on a number of measures, but have a considerably higher rate of drug-related deaths than elsewhere in Europe. As well as pursuing harm reduction and recovery, this report stresses the importance of social integration as an objective.
Implication of this English study is that to save the lives of people dependent on heroin or similar drugs, they should be engaged and retained in substitute prescribing programmes like methadone maintenance until there is little risk of their relapsing after leaving. Shortly after leaving residential/inpatient settings was the highest risk period.
The first simulation of the cost-effectiveness of supplying naloxone kits to heroin users to enable them to prevent overdose deaths estimates that in the US context these programmes would be well within the range considered a cost-effective health intervention. Findings are likely to broadly apply to the UK, one weak link being whether drug users given the kits actually carry them around.
For the first time the annual accounting of the treatment caseload in England combines both drug and alcohol use patient records, registering a continuing trend down in total numbers due mainly to falls in users of heroin and other opiate-type drugs.
According to clients of this Danish drug consumption room, access to a safe injecting facility reduced their public injecting and unsafe syringe disposal.
REVIEW 2015 HTM file
Drug consumption rooms: an overview of provision and evidence
The European Union’s drug misuse monitoring centre says the evidence contradicts concerns that facilities where drug users can more safely use illegal drugs might counterproductively encourage drug use, delay treatment entry, or aggravate problems arising from local drug markets; instead both the users and the community benefit.
DOCUMENT 2012 HTM file
Quality standard for drug use disorders
Official UK quality standards on the treatment of adults for problems related to the use of illegal drugs, intended be used to plan and deliver services to provide the best possible care.
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