Drink and Drugs News DDN March 2019 - Page 14

KEEP ON MOVING: ThE 12Th DDN cONfErENcE Session 3 ‘We are really fortunate in Lancashire in that as service users we really do feel that we’ve got a voice, and that we’re listened to.’ Liz, LUF INSIGHTFUL STORIES The day’s final session, ‘Insights’, heard personal stories about naloxone, the lack of support for problem gambling, and properly engaging with your past to move on in the future 14 | drinkanddrugsnews | March 2019 ‘I was a heavy-duty heroin and crack user for 20 years,’ Alex Boyt told the day’s closing session. ‘I haven’t used drugs for 15 years, but I don’t see myself as in recovery.’ He’d first learned about naloxone at Harm Reduction International’s 2008 conference in Barcelona, he said. ‘In those days, the governance around naloxone was crazy. At one point you could only be prescribed it to use on yourself, when you’re unconscious. It was that kind of crazy thinking that really made provision difficult in the early days.’ An early naloxone exercise in Chicago had seen the drug-using community ‘saturated’ with the medication, with around 80,000 doses given out to 40,000 injecting drug users. Drug-related deaths then fell by around 25 per cent. However, half of all overdoses occurred while people were alone, he said, meaning that naloxone would be no help. ‘So naloxone is significant, but it’s not a magic bullet. Drug-related deaths are at record levels, and if you look at a map of them and a map of deprivation they pretty much match each other. What causes drug-related deaths is misery and deprivation, so we really need to bear that in mind.’ What was also frustrating was that there were no known negative effects to naloxone, he added. ‘My personal story is that I’d done my second prison sentence – I’d been in there for a year’, which included taking various relapse-prevention courses. On leaving, however, the ‘first thing I did was go to score. I bought a bit of heroin, was very careful with the first hit, but with the second I was less careful.’ He’d woken up with paramedics standing over him – they’d given him naloxone, and ‘it did save my life.’ Provision had now improved significantly, and although it wasn’t a magic bullet it was ‘a really vital part of how communities take care of each other’, he stressed. ‘Back in the day if you went over you’d get rushed to hospital and be given naloxone,’ said CGL recovery worker Peter Hawley. ‘My passion of really trying to drive use of naloxone is that over the years I’ve seen pals and service users be there one minute and overdosed the next.’ He’d got into service user involvement in East Sussex, training staff, distributing naloxone to a wider audience and ‘being part of the national drive’, he said. By September 2018 CGL had dispensed more than 29,000 kits through community pharmacies, with more than 1,500 being used in overdose situations. ‘When we started our penetration rate was really, really low, so I really pushed it,’ he said. ‘I got the whole service to really embrace it,’ and now more than 90 per cent of service users were supplied with naloxone. ‘But I was still thinking of the www.drinkanddrugsnews.com