Naloxone: The Welsh Experience. A presentation by Ifor Glynn, Director, Swansea Drug Project, Wales.
What is Naloxone?
Naloxone is a medication (an ‘opioid receptor antagonist’) which counters the effects of an opioid overdose, reversing the depression of the central nervous system and respiratory system.
Naloxone is an ‘antidote to heroin’ and:
• Temporarily reverses the effects of an opiate overdose
• It is short acting – wears off quickly
• Overdose can last for 8 hours or more (especially with methadone)
• Naloxone can begin to wear off after 20 mins
• No effect on overdoses resulting from the use of other drugs
• No potential for abuse
• Naloxone precipitates WITHDRAWAL – the individual may want to use again straight away or become aggressive
• Monitoring required after initial administration
Availability in Ireland
Naloxone is a prescription only medication in Ireland. It is subject to controls in terms of who may prescribe it, and it may only be used by the person for whom it is prescribed. On this basis, an amendment to current legislation would be required for Naloxone to be made available to opiate users and their family members in Ireland. This approach was taken in the UK, where Naloxone is available, supported by the Naloxone training programme for families and carers, piloted by the National Treatment Agency for Substance Misuse.
In early 2012, The Ana Liffey Drug Project convened a 'Naloxone Advisory Group' with the following objectives: (a) to pilot provision of Naloxone in Ireland for administration by opiate service users and their families, with the aim of reversing overdose; (b) to evaluate provision the pilot with the aim of improving the project and if proven effective then to roll out national Naloxone provision.
The group is comprised of the following individuals: Dr Gerry Bury, UCD; Dr Austin O’Carroll, Safetynet; Dr Des Corrigan, TCD; Vivian Guerin, Probation Services; Sadie Grace, National Family Support Network; Tony Duffin, Ana Liffey Drug Project; Caroline Gardner, Progression Routes Initiative.
The Welsh experience
In July 2012, Ivor Glynn, Director of the Swansea Drug Project, gave a presentation entitled: Naloxone: The Welsh Experience, to the Irish Naloxone Advisory Group. You can view this presentation below.