‘What’s happening on the streets with benzos?’ – Free e-Learning course aims to upskill workers

9th February 2021

A new, free to access e-learning course on the use of benzodiazepines in Scotland has been launched today by Scottish Drugs Forum (SDF).

The course – What’s happening on the streets with Benzos?’ – has been developed to increase participants’ understanding of the associated harms and escalation of benzodiazepine use in Scotland.

Benzodiazepines, also known as ‘benzos’, are an overarching term for several similar substances which include diazepam (Valium), etizolam, alprazolam and diclazepam.

The use of benzodiazepines in Scotland is of significant concern as there has been a 734% increase in the number of deaths where benzodiazepines have been implicated in recent years – rising from 121 deaths in 2014 to 888 deaths in 2019.

This accounts for 70% of the 1,264 drug-related deaths registered in Scotland in 2019; an increase from 20% in 2014.

The concise course outlines the current and emerging trends in street and unlicensed benzodiazepines and will also help participants to identify and understand the physical and psychological effects of the drug.

Participants will also gain an understanding of the range of benzodiazepines that are prevalent in Scotland, will be able to identify the effects of benzodiazepines, and gain an understanding of harm reduction information associated with the substances.

David Liddell, SDF’s CEO, said:

“Benzodiazepines, particularly if used alongside other substances, are a major contributory factor to Scotland’s current drug death crisis.

“Of the 1,264 people who tragically died of a drug overdose in Scotland in 2019, almost three quarters had benzodiazepines implicated in their death, a significant increase in recent years.

“It is essential that workers are supported to understand the complex issues surrounding benzodiazepine use in Scotland and this free e-learning course is an ideal first step for people to update their knowledge at a time that suits them.”

The course is available to access through the SDF Training website, which has been adapted to continue to provide people flexible drug-related training opportunities throughout the pandemic.

Katerina Vourlakos, SDF’s e-Learning Development Officer, said:

“SDF are committed to providing service staff, and the wider public, the opportunity to increase their knowledge on a range of drug-related issues – despite the current restrictions – using a range of technologies, such as our free to access e-learning courses.

“This course is an important addition to our e-learning portfolio, the topic of which has been highlighted by workers and practitioners as a key area for learning and consensus across the field.

“We are delighted therefore to be able to provide this training opportunity, which will equip people who are determined to reduce the risks of overdose amongst people who access their services with an up-to-date understanding of the issues.”

For those who complete the course and who are seeking to further their understanding of benzodiazepines, SDF provides specialist face-to-face training on the subject which is currently delivered online. Available dates for the ‘Online Benzodiazepines’ course are bookable through the SDF training website.

SDF offer a range of other free to access e-learning courses, which are also available via the SDF training website.

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