Harm reduction is a term that defines policies, programmes, services and actions that work to reduce the health, social and economic harm to individuals, communities and society that are associated with the use of drugs.
- People who inject drugs are vulnerable to contracting blood borne infections such as HIV and hepatitis B and C.
- Providing sterile needles and syringes helps reduce the risk of infection.
- People dependent on illicit opiate drugs (such as heroin) are at particular risks from impure drugs, overdose and having to engage in acquisitive crime in order to purchase their drugs. The medical provision of substitute drugs such as methadone and buprenorphine reduces these risks.
- People who become drunk in bars and pubs may cause harm to themselves or others. Training bar staff in responsible serving may help reduce the risk of intoxication and give staff the skills to prevent incidents.
- People who drink and then drive motor vehicles may hurt themselves or others. Drink driving laws, the provision of public transport, and designated driver programmes reduce risks of injury and fatality by separating drinking from driving.
- People who smoke tobacco are likely to suffer serious illness and premature death. Helping them to switch to non-smokable forms of nicotine vastly reduces their risks.
Harm Reduction can work alongside approaches that aim for reductions in drug, alcohol and tobacco consumption.
Drug Related Deaths
Mixing downers is the most common cause of drug related deaths in Forth Valley and Scotland as a whole. Downers (Blues, vallies, scoobies, benzos, diazepam) slow the breathing and heart rate and can cause unconsciousness, brain damage, coma and death.
There has been an increase in the rate of HIV diagnoses in people who inject drugs in Glasgow. In 2015 there were 45 new cases. Previously the number of newly diagnosed cases of HIV in this population was lower, averaging 20 per year.
The increase has highlighted the need to raise awareness of HIV amongst people who inject drugs. The “HIV – What Staff Need to Know” resource aims to support frontline staff and people who engage with those who use drugs to better understand HIV, including how to support people who may be at risk or who have recently diagnosed with HIV
Injecting Equipment Provision Services
CGL Forth Valley run Harm Reduction Drop-in centres throughout Forth Valley including a mobile outreach service. Mobile timetable
The programme aims to reduce the incidence of drug related deaths due to accidental opioid overdose by people who are identified as being at risk. By raising awareness of overdose prevention and providing education on the signs and symptoms of overdose, calling an ambulance, emergency life support (training affiliated to Heartstart) and the administration of naloxone, it is hoped to reduce the number of fatal opioid overdoes. The Scottish Government recognises the part that take home naloxone can play in achieving this and is supporting the role of the programme in Scotland.
Anyone present at the scene of a suspected opioid overdose can administer naloxone with the intent of saving a life. Training and supply of naloxone is now available in Forth Valley to people at risk of opioid overdose and their friends and family. Training is also available to members of staff working with people at risk.
The ‘take home naloxone kit’ contains:
- One pre-filled syringe of naloxone hydrochloride 2mg/2ml for intramuscular injection
- 2 x 23g needles
- NHS Scotland naloxone information leaflet and manufacturers leaflet
Replacement kits are available from designated services in most Health Board areas in Scotland.
CGL Forth Valley Recovery Service – 08081962188 is the point of contact for those who would like naloxone training and supply in the Forth Valley area.
Naloxone Training for Trainers
To book a place please email the ADP Support Team FV-UHB.FVADP@nhs.net.
Overdose Awareness and Naloxone Training
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org – NHSFV Health Promotion.