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News 6 March 2019

Forward’s prison services help prevent fatal opioid overdoses with life-saving medication

The Forward Trust is pleased to announce that it is working to make an impact on reducing drug-related opioid-related deaths.

We are doing this by supplying an average of 40% of prison leavers with a history of opiate addiction with Naloxone kits, compared with a national average of just 12% revealed in a report yesterday 1.

The number of drug-related deaths in England and Wales is at an all-time high, with 3,756 deaths in 2017. 53% of these deaths involved an opioid2. Those who are released from prison are at the highest risk of overdose and drug-related death in the first few weeks following release3,4.

Naloxone is an effective, cheap and easy to administer drug that can save lives by reversing the reduced breathing rate caused by an opioid overdose and thus preventing death5.

Because of the potential impact that Naloxone can have on reducing drug-related deaths, Forward instigated a new process to increase the amount of opioid-users being released from prison with Take Home Naloxone. This structured approach was first implemented in HMP Lewes, where it had a positive effect on uptake of Naloxone kits by opioid users – with an average of 53% being released with Take Home Naloxone.

Forward’s Chief Executive, Mike Trace, explained: “We have made great progress in the prisons where we provide clinical services and have plans to expand our success further to improve Naloxone uptake rates. The better we get at putting these Naloxone packs in the right hands, the greater the likelihood that we can save lives”.

1. Finding a needle in a haystack: Take Home Naloxone in England 2017/18 – Release.
2. Office for National Statistics. (2018). Deaths related to drug poisoning in England and Wales: 2017 registrations.
3. Phillips, J., Gelsthorpe, L., & Padfield, N. (2017). Non-custodial deaths: Missing, ignored or unimportant? Criminology & Criminal Justice,
4. Bukten et al. (2017). High risk of overdose death following release from prison: variations in mortality during a 15-year observation period. Addiction,
5. Langham, S., Wright, A., Kenworthy, J., Grieve, R., & Dunlop, W. C. N. (2018). Cost-Effectiveness of Take-Home Naloxone for the Prevention of Overdose Fatalities among Heroin Users in the United Kingdom. Value in Health