In preparation for International Overdose Awareness Day on Weds 31st August, Somerset Drug & Alcohol Service (SDAS), run by social enterprise Turning Point, and commissioned by Somerset County Council, has announced an exciting new project in partnership with Avon & Somerset Police.
This new initiative will see local PCs and PCSOs volunteer to receive training from SDAS to carry and use Naloxone (Nyxoid nasal spray) to help reverse opioid overdoses they may encounter as part of their day-to-day role.
The latest ONS figures for drug related deaths are the highest number since records began in 1993 and 6.5% higher than in 2020. The death rate in 2021 was 81.1% higher than it was in 2012. With such stark figures it is essential that more measures are put in place to reduce this number. This new partnership will help to tackle this as Naloxone is a lifesaving medication that can be thought of in the same way as a defibrillator or an epi pen for anaphylactic shock. It will buy the casualty some time while waiting for medical professionals to arrive as it is not intended to replace emergency support from the ambulance service.
In Somerset, Naloxone is available from 15 community pharmacies as well as SDAS Hubs in Yeovil and Taunton and distributed to appropriate SDAS service users, including family and friends. As part of this new project, SDAS will be working with Avon and Somerset Police to train and support frontline officers to carry Naloxone.
Trevor, aged 50 from Taunton is a Naloxone Champion, having had an opiate addiction for over 20 years and has experienced first-hand on several occasions, being administered Naloxone. Trevor said;
“I know a lot of people who have died but my life has been saved by this drug on several occasions.”
“During my years of being addicted to heroin I have gone over on several occasions. I don’t remember a lot about those situations but have been told how authorities were called out and how being given Naloxone saved my life. There are countless people who have died and could have been saved if Naloxone were around more. The more it is in the communities and more people carry it on them, the more it can help. It might be the point that changes them and gives them a chance to try and get clean.”
Trevor will be drug free for 10 years this December and now works with the community to help them be safer.
Maddie, who is also a Naloxone Champion added:
“I think it is so important to carry it around as it works every time it is used and saves lives. I’m not carrying it for myself, but I am carrying it for all those people that I have loved and lost, when this could have saved their lives.”
“I believe the idea of respect is very important, if we can start to create a culture where carrying a naloxone is perceived as basic respect for those around you, and not carrying one is seen as disrespectful, much in the way now that driving drunk is seen socially unacceptable by most, then this may be a big key to getting people to start to carry it.
“I think it is brilliant that officers who volunteer and who have been trained in Somerset Police will be carrying naloxone now. As it becomes more known in the community that they have it on them, it will help reduce paranoia and hopefully save lots of lives. This is a great step forward, however it needs to be everywhere, it should be at every pharmacy and carried by all support services in the community. I’m pleased that this is the first step in getting it more recognised locally and helping those that need it.”
Superintendent Dickon Turner from Avon and Somerset Police said;
“Avon and Somerset Police are working with partners to reduce the harm from drugs in our communities, including disrupting County Lines in Somerset so it makes complete sense for police officers and PCSOs be in a position to save someone’s life by carrying Naloxone as well. Just like some other Forces in the UK, we are asking for front line staff to volunteer to carry Naloxone spray which is being provided free by our local drug and alcohol support agency.”
On Weds 31st August, SDAS will be in Taunton town centre promoting International Overdose Awareness Day and the availability of Naloxone. The team will have a promotional pitch in Fore Street between 11am and 3pm. More information is available here.
In September, members of the public can register to attend free training with SDAS, where they will learn how to save a life by spotting the signs of opioid overdose and administering Naloxone safely.
For more information about the free confidential treatment and support that SDAS delivers across Somerset to anyone who is experiencing difficulties with their substance use or is affected by someone else’s, visit www.turning-point.co.uk/sdas or 0300 303 87 88
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Notes to editors:
- Turning Point is a social enterprise which has over 50 years’ experience of providing support for people affected by drug and alcohol misuse, mental health conditions, offending behaviours, unemployment, health and wellbeing social issues, and those with a learning disability to discover new possibilities in their lives. For more information, please visit www.turning-point.co.uk
- Somerset Drug & Alcohol Service (SDAS), is run by social enterprise Turning Point, and commissioned by Somerset County Council.
- Naloxone Champions are people with lived experiences, who promote and distribute naloxone in their communities and at outreach events.