Heroin antidote now available in Suffolk will save lives, say drugs charities
PUBLISHED: 11:49 22 May 2019 | UPDATED: 12:40 22 May 2019
A heroin antidote is now available without subscription at five Suffolk pharmacies.
One pharmacy each in Ipswich, Stowmarket, Sudbury, Haverhill and Bury St Edmunds will have the medicine, called Naloxone, available over the counter.
The drug can be obtained by anyone related to or associating with a heroin user and can administer the antidote without their permission if they believe their life is in danger.
Simon Aalders, director of The Recovery Hub Ipswich, said: "We fully support this initiative. We have been running first aid training for several years now, and recently started dispensing Naloxone to opiate dependant clients.
"Teaching people how, and when to use this life saving medication is crucial.
"Every life saved is another opportunity for that person to realise they need help and the only safe thing to do is to stop using with the right support."
If Naloxone is administered to someone who is not experiencing an opioid overdose, it will have no effect.
Many of the homeless people and rough sleepers of Ipswich are known to the team at Ipswich Housing Action Group (IHAG) and some may be living with drug addictions.
IHAG director Halford Hewitt MBE is planning to arrange naloxone training to his staff to prevent unnecessary deaths on the frontline of work with problematic drug users.
Mr Hewitt said: "Naloxone can and obviously does saves lives so as an organisation we are looking at members of staff carrying it.
"Ideally we wouldn't have anyone overdosing on drugs, but this can prevent the unnecessary loss of life in those that do."
The antidote can be given to people using heroin or prescription medication using opiates as a painkiller, such as codeine or morphine.
The decision to make the drug available in the pharmacies was taken by national drug misuse charity Turning Point.
Clare Jakeman, senior operations manager for Turning Point, said: "Naloxone is a lifesaving drug. At a time when the UK currently has historically high levels of opioid drug-related deaths, we have seen the impact it can have saving lives.
Having Naloxone to hand if you are with someone who has overdosed can mean the difference between life and death."