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Antidote to save heroin addicts to be distributed around Ireland

Crime DeskBy Lynne Kelleher
Antidote to save heroin addicts to be distributed around Ireland

A heroin antidote is set to be handed out free to high-risk addicts and their families around Ireland to help prevent overdoses.

There were 350 drug overdose deaths in 2012 in Ireland or five deaths every week, with heroin or methadone killing victims in four out of 10 cases, while over 5,289 drug poisoning deaths were recorded in the nine years from 2004, when records began, to 2012.

A new drug called Naloxone, which can reverse the effects of an opium overdose if administered in time, will be rolled out for the first time in Ireland in the coming weeks.

Pre-filled syringes of Naloxone will be given to high-risk addicts and their families in Cork, Dublin, Limerick and Waterford as the injection can immediately combat the fatal effects of heroin or methadone.

“It will save lives. It will reverse the effects of overdose,” said David Lane from the Cork Local Drugs Task Force

“It’s the antidote for heroin. It’s what is administered by first responders when they are called to a scene of a potential overdose.  

“For high-risk drugs users they will be prescribed Naloxone and be administered before the ambulance arrives on scenes.

“It will be hugely important in saving lives. It’s injectable.”

Scotland – which recently started giving out the emergency drug – has shown a big reduction in high-risk addicts dying from overdoses. The life-saving drug has also been given out to addicts in Australia and the U.S. 

The drug with the brand name Narcan can revive addicts during an overdose, but only if it’s quickly administered, which is why agencies want the antidote to be carried by addicts, their families or homeless shelters.

“They will have it on their person or if they are staying in a hostel the staff will be trained how to inject it. It is the first time in Ireland. We are expecting people will be prescribed it within the next month or so”, said Mr Lane.