Drug Related Death Summit 2015

Last year Office for National Statistics figures showed a sharp increase in deaths that were recorded as a result of drug misuse. Following significant concern expressed by Blenheim and a wide range of organisations and service user groups the Drug Related Death summit, organised by DrugScope with Public Health England and the Local Government Association, looked at what might be causing the rise and what could be done to reduce overdose deaths.

Since the release of the statistics by the Office for National Statistics Blenheim has been part of the Naloxone Action Group England (NAG England) campaigning to introduce a national programme for the distribution of a medicine (naloxone) that can reverse the effects of drug overdose.

Blenheim are delighted to see that naloxone was recognised as a key message from the summit;

  • Commissioners and services should look at how they could supply naloxone more widely in the community to ensure those vulnerable to heroin overdose (including those not in treatment), their families, peers and carers are able to access the medicine.

The other key messages from the summit were:

  • The availability of accurate, timely and easily accessible data is important in order to make the appropriate adjustments to policy and practice in order to reduce drug-related deaths;
  • The majority of drug misuse deaths still involve opiates, in particular heroin and methadone;
  • Being in contact with a treatment service would appear to be a significant protective factor for drug-related deaths;
  • Services and practitioners should pay attention to the elevated risk for those in treatment who are regularly overdosing, are drinking excessively, live alone in temporary accommodation or are homeless, or as a result of smoking-related diseases have compromised respiratory systems;
  • Policy makers and commissioners should think about providing timely and accurate alerts to drug users who are not in the treatment system – including drug users who don’t use opiates.

Blenheim CEO, John Jolly, said:

“This is a wake up call for the need to focus on harm reduction and the needs of those not yet ready to give up illicit drug use, as well the important focus on recovery. You need to be alive to recover. It also reminds us that being drug free is not the end of the need for help and support but the beginning, sadly those making the most effort to change are often at most risk.”

Download the report here.

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