About this release

This release by Public Health Scotland presents information on the number of take-home naloxone (THN) kits issued by the National Naloxone Programme in Scotland.

Accidental overdose is a common cause of death among users of heroin, morphine and similar drugs, which are referred to as opioids. Naloxone is a drug which reverses the effects of a potentially fatal overdose with these drugs.

Main points

In 2020/21:

  • 22,366 THN kits were issued in Scotland, an increase of 67% from 2019/20 (13,414).
  • Around the time of the first national COVID-19 lockdown on 23 March 2020 there was a marked increase in the number of THN kits issued in Scotland, with 8,040 kits issued between April 2020 and June 2020.
Image caption Number of Take-Home Naloxone kits supplied, by quarter and financial year (Scotland; 2011/12 to 2020/21)
  • 13,933 THN kits were issued from community outlets, 1,240 kits were issued in prisons upon release, 7,045 kits were dispensed via community prescription, and 77 kits were distributed by the Scottish Ambulance Service (SAS).
  • Of the 13,933 THN kits from community outlets, the most common sources of supply were drug treatment services (10,418, 75%); non-drug treatment services (such as homelessness services) (684, 5%); via pharmacies (as non-prescribed kits) (416, 3%). 2,203 (16%) kits were of an unknown source of supply.
  • 6,447 THN kits were distributed as repeat supplies from community outlets, prisons, and SAS. Of these, 1,377 (21%) were issued because the previous kit was reported as having been used to treat an opioid overdose.
  • 4,222 THN kits were issued as a first supply to people at risk of an opioid overdose.

At the end of 2020/21:

  • 94,170 THN kits had been supplied in Scotland.
  • 32,969 people at risk of an opioid overdose were estimated to have been issued with a first supply of THN.
  • The ‘reach’ of THN (based on the number of people at risk of an opioid overdose supplied with kits between 2011/12 and 2020/21) was estimated to be 575 kits per 1,000 people with problematic drug use.

Background

The overall aim of Scotland’s National Naloxone Programme is to prevent fatal opioid overdoses. Administration of naloxone provides time for emergency services to arrive and for further treatment to be given. Following suitable training, THN kits are issued to people at risk of opioid overdose, their friends and family and service workers in order to help prevent overdose deaths.

Further information

Data from this publication are available from the data files section.

The next release of this publication will be Winter 2022/23.

General enquiries

If you have an enquiry relating to this publication, please contact phs.drugsteam@phs.scot.

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Older versions of this publication

Versions of this publication released before 16 March 2020 may be found on the Data and Intelligence, Health Protection Scotland or Improving Health websites.

Last updated: 07 October 2022
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