Preventing Overdose and Drug Related Death
The number of drug misuse deaths registered every year have generally been on a rising trend in England for the past 20 years and, following significant increases in the last few years, have reached the highest figure on record.
Opioids are mentioned on the death certificate in most drug related deaths; and heroin related deaths in England and Wales have doubled since 2012.
The causes of these increases are complex, but two major factors have been identified as being significant:
- An increase in the availability and purity of heroin
- An ageing cohort of people who started using heroin in the 1980s and 1990s are now experiencing cumulative physical and mental health conditions and are at higher risk of death. For example, heroin users with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) due to long-term smoking are at high-risk of overdose death.
Other contributing factors include:
- ‘County Lines’ operating in Suffolk – stronger drugs have become more readily available and available in more rural areas
- Drop in tolerance levels – for example for someone leaving prison or hospital or following any kind of ‘drug holiday’
- Previous non-fatal overdose
The best way to protect someone from overdose and death is to get them into structured drug and alcohol treatment. Further information about Drug and Alcohol treatment in Suffolk is available on the Drug and Alcohol Support and Services web page (internal web page).
However, we understand the cohort of people most at risk of overdose and drug related death, are also the cohort of people least likely to be in treatment and most difficult to engage with.
If you are working with someone at risk of overdose and drug related death, there are measures that can be put in place to reduce harm.
Ren Masetti, Suffolk Drug and Alcohol Trainer for Heath Outreach, and Nick Allard, Recovery and Integration Manager at Turning Point, have taken part in a video about spotting signs of those most at risk of overdose and drug related death and how to help them, including information about reversing the effects of an Opioid overdose using Naloxone:
Naloxone is a drug that can reverse the effects of opioids, such as heroin, methadone, opium, codeine, morphine, and buprenorphine. Naloxone can save someone’s life if it's used quickly after they’ve overdosed on opioids.
Take-home Naloxone kits are available at all three Turning Point Suffolk Hubs and as part of a pilot scheme currently trialling across the county, take-home Naloxone is also available across five Suffolk pharmacies. It is free to all opioid users or anyone who knows an opioid user. Full training is provided upon collection which takes a maximum of 15 minutes.
Pharmacies providing take-home Naloxone:
Ipswich: M&M Pharmacy – 14 St Matthews St, IP1 3EU
Lowestoft: Hayden’s High St Pharmacy - High Street NR 32 1JE
Sudbury: Parade Pharmacy – 6 North St Parade, CO10 1GL
Bury St. Edmunds: Croasdales Pharmacy – 1 The Traverse, IP33 1BJ
Haverhill: David Holland Pharmacy - Clements Surgery, Norton Rd, Haverhill CB9 8LU
Turning Point Suffolk Hub Addresses:
17-19 Museum Street
Bury St Edmunds
2 Looms Lane
Bury St Edmunds
Health Matters Blog: Preventing Drug Misuse Deaths (External website)
Suffolk Drug and Alcohol Training for Professionals (Internal web page)
Drug and Alcohol Support and Services (Internal web page)
Suffolk Drug and Alcohol Recovery Network (Internal web page)
Turning Point Suffolk Wellbeing Cloud (External website)
Talk to Frank website – Honest information about drugs (External website)