About this release

This release by Public Health Scotland presents information on the number of take-home naloxone kits issued by the National Naloxone Programme in Scotland. Figures are presented separately for kits issued from community outlets, kits issued in prisons at the point of prisoner release and kits dispensed via community prescription.

Accidental overdose is a common cause of death among users of heroin, morphine and similar drugs, which are referred to as opioids. Naloxone is a drug which reverses the effects of a potentially fatal overdose with these drugs.

Main points

  • A total of 12,135 take-home naloxone kits were issued in Scotland in 2018/19, an increase of 42% from the previous year (8,555). A total of 58,377 take-home naloxone kits were supplied in Scotland between 2011/12 and 2018/19.
  • In 2018/19, there were 10,609 take-home naloxone kits issued from community outlets, 844 kits issued in prisons upon release and 682 kits dispensed via community prescription.
Image caption Cumulative number of naloxone kits supplied, by source (Scotland; 2011/12 to 2018/19)
Cumulative number of naloxone kits supplied, by source (Scotland; 2011/12 to 2018/19)  The cumulative number of THN supplies distributed in the community outlets and prison, has increased steadily since April 2011. However, the rate of increase has been much faster in the community outlets compared to prisons. The overall number of supplies distributed in the community outlets remains much greater compared with the number of supplies distributed in prisons, with a widening gap.
  • In 2018/19, repeat supplies accounted for 5,742 take-home naloxone kits distributed from community outlets and prisons. Of these, 1,543 (27%) repeat supplies were made because the previous kit was reported as having been used to treat an opioid overdose.
  • In 2018/19, it is estimated that 2,778 take-home naloxone kits were issued as a first supply to an individual at risk of opioid overdose. Cumulatively, 25,935 at risk individuals are estimated to have been issued with a first supply of take-home naloxone between 2011/12 and 2018/19.
  • At the end of 2018/19, the reach of take-home naloxone (based on the number of at risk individuals supplied with kits between 2011/12 and 2018/19) was estimated to be 453 kits per 1,000 ‘problem drug users’.

Background

The overall aim of Scotland’s National Naloxone Programme is to prevent fatal opioid overdoses. Administration of naloxone provides time for emergency services to arrive and for further treatment to be given. Following suitable training, take home naloxone kits are issued to people at risk of opioid overdose, their friends and family and service workers in order to help prevent overdose deaths. In the five years from April 2011 to March 2016, the National Naloxone Programme co-ordinated distribution of take-home naloxone kits from community outlets (usually specialist drug treatment services) and prisons. During this period, NHS Boards were responsible for local delivery of the programme and the cost of naloxone kits was reimbursed by the Scottish Government. While the Scottish Government continues to fund some aspects of the National Naloxone Programme, from 2016/17 NHS Boards assumed direct responsibility for funding take-home naloxone supplies. Following this change and revisions to the regulatory framework, some NHS Boards have also started to dispense take-home naloxone via community prescription.

Further information

Data from this publication are available from the data files section at the top of this page.

For related topics, please see the Drugs Misuse (external website) pages on the Data and Intelligence website.

The Scottish Public Health Observatory (ScotPHO) provides information on various aspects of drug misuse in Scotland: ScotPHO drug misuse section (external website).

The next release of this publication will be spring 2021.

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Older versions of this publication

Versions of this publication released before 16 March 2020 may be found on the Data and Intelligence, Health Protection Scotland or Improving Health websites.

Last updated: 28 June 2021
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