A CONTROVERSIAL treatment that blocks the effects of a heroin overdose long enough to allow an addict to get emergency treatment is to be handed to Scottish drug abusers in an attempt to save dozens of lives.
Addicts who leave prison and are thought to be at risk of overdosing will be given packs of naloxone, which reverses the symptoms of an opiate overdose for up to 20 minutes. Prisoners will also be given training in how to administer the treatment, which can be taken orally or via a syringe.
The £500,000 scheme will also see NHS boards give out naloxone packs to drug users in their area and send trainers to educate at-risk users on how they should be used.
Critics warned that naloxone could be counter-productive.
Professor Neil McKeganey, of Glasgow University's Centre for Drug Misuse Research, said: "The real worry is if you give addicts a drug that can reverse the effects of a heroin overdose, there is a real possibility that some addicts will be prepared to use higher dosages of heroin, confident that they can reverse the effects if they need to."
But the programme was defended by community safety Minister Fergus Ewing. He said: "Naloxone has the potential to save lives. That is why I want to see it available as widely as possible to those at greatest risk of overdose."
By Christopher Mackie
18 August 2010
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