Scotland’s Take-Home Naloxone Programme
The overall aim of the National Naloxone Programme is to contribute to a reduction in fatal opioid overdoses in Scotland. Naloxone is a medication that temporarily reverses the effects of opioid overdose, available to anyone at risk of opioid overdose.
Announced in 2010 and launched in 2011, the take-home naloxone (THN) programme was introduced by the Scottish Government in response to the rising number of opioid-related deaths and following successful small-scale THN pilots in Glasgow, Lanarkshire and Inverness.
Over several years, SDF had been advocating for THN and was subsequently commissioned to coordinate the programme and to train the workforce. Staff working in community drug services and the Scottish Prison Service were the primary focus of a ‘training for trainers’ model across the country.
SDF’s ‘Naloxone Team’ consists of the National Naloxone Coordinator and National Training and Support Officer. Each health board area has a Local Naloxone Coordinator.
All 14 health boards, including all 15 prisons, are involved in the national programme and currently supply THN free of charge to people most likely to witness an overdose.
Information Services Division (ISD) Scotland monitor and collate the data which details the number of kits supplied and who they were supplied to, i.e. person at risk of overdose, family member/friend, staff member. This information is published in an annual monitoring report.
In October 2015, the regulations regarding the supply of naloxone were changed to allow anyone working in a drug service to provide THN (previously this had been restricted to nurses/pharmacists/doctors) which has allowed for greater distribution via third sector organisations. It also allows family members to access THN without consent from the ‘person at risk’.
The National Naloxone Advisory Group (established in 2010), of which SDF was a member, led on the strategic development of the programme for the five-year period of evaluation. This group was disbanded in 2016 and the transition of funding from Scottish Government to local areas for the cost of THN began. The naloxone work is now reviewed under the National Harms Group, part of the Scottish Government’s Partnership for Action on Drugs in Scotland (PADS) structure.
The Scottish Naloxone Network (ScoNN) is a practitioner forum for local naloxone coordinators, chaired by SDF, which meets quarterly.