An overdose reversing drug that should be more widely available

On World Health Day, this document presents the joint consultation that the two London based Fulfilling Lives teams (Fulfilling Lives Lambeth, Southwark and Lewisham and Fulfilling Lives in Islington and Camden) submitted to the Department of Health & Social Care (DHSC) on expanding access to naloxone – a drug that is highly effective in reversing the effects of opiate overdose and preventing deaths.

People with first-hand experience of substance use and practitioners from all levels of the organisations contributed to this submission as well as wider research and evidence from peer-reviewed journals and national datasets.

Our research found that:

Naloxone should be available in more places

Currently, the main point of contact for accessing naloxone is drug and alcohol services. This should be expanded further, for example to domestic violence services, sexual health services and food banks. Expanding the services that are able to give out naloxone will decrease the incidence of opioid overdose and drug-related deaths.

Support is needed

Appropriate training and knowledge is required to use naloxone.  There should be information about the drug, in how it is delivered and used. People with former experience said that they were not aware of naloxone when they were using opiates and that they knew people who had died from opiate overdoses whose deaths could have been prevented. This highlights the importance of training around naloxone for both practitioners and staff and importantly those using substances or with lived experience.

Perceptions and stigma are still barriers

People with first-hand experience highlighted that there was a perception that carrying naloxone would lead to criminalisation or being looked down upon by services. It was suggested that services had perceived risks associated with withdrawal, and concerns about causing accidental harm. Research found that some Prison Officers believed distributing naloxone at the point of release from prison could act as a potential incentive or encouragement for using opiates when back in the community rather than viewing it as a harm reduction measure to reduce deaths.

Read the full report here:

Press Release: