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HSE scheme to supply heroin users with life-saving overdose antidote

NewsBy Shuki Byrne
Test: The antidote Naloxone will be given to 600 addicts and their family and friends
Test: The antidote Naloxone will be given to 600 addicts and their family and friends

The HSE has confirmed that heroin users will be supplied with a life-saving antidote for overdoses along with training on how to administer it.

Health Minister Leo Varadkar and Drugs Minister Aodhán Ó Ríordáin welcomed the move to make naloxone available to heroin users from today. 

The test project involved supplying 600 addicts with the antidote and training for them and their loved ones as to how to use the pre-filled syringe. 

It will also include those who have recently been released from custody that have been identified by authorities as being at high risk of overdose.

These drug users and those close to them have been trained on how to administer naloxone and to recognise the signs of an overdose, the Health Minister said. 

"This project could make an enormous difference when it comes to reducing drug-related deaths," said Leo Varadkar.

In 2012 alone, 350 people died of an overdose with 220 of those deaths involving heroin and methadone. 

"I have no doubt that lives will be saved as a result of this initiative," Drugs Minister Aodhán Ó Ríordáin said. 

Tony Duffin, of the Ana Liffey Project in Dublin, said: "There is the equivalent of a fatal overdose every day in Ireland. The HSE is working with Ana Liffey and other agencies to provide naloxone to a group of intravenous drug users who are at significant risk of overdose."

The project is being rolled out in Dublin, Limerick, Cork and Waterford.

It is being carried out as a test run by the HSE to determine the effectiveness of naloxone as an antidote among heroin users.