Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Scottish Highland Overdose Prevention Programme Goes to Prison

Lisa Ross
NHS Highland Clinical Harm Reduction Nurse Specialist / Naloxone Lead

In July 2009, I started the Highland programme in Inverness, in the north of Scotland, to deliver overdose prevention services to those at risk of opiate overdose, their friends and family members, and staff working with those at risk. The program is part of the Scottish National Health Service, our universal public health care system. 

Trainees were given a supply of naloxone for intramuscular administration to take home and use in the event of witnessing an opiate overdose. The programme also included Inverness prison; those who were identified as at risk were trained whilst in prison and given a naloxone pack on their liberation date.

The Programme was rolled out after the first year throughout the Highland area. To date over 900 kits have been supplied and there have been over 200 recorded uses of naloxone with successful reversal of the overdose state. In 2012, the programme was developed to include supply of naloxone for intranasal administration.

Last year I also started to develop a network of peer trainers; one of the aims of this was to increase uptake to those at risk, particularly those who had not previously engaged with the programme. Peer trainers are ideally placed to deliver this training; after all they hold the most experience and are far more likely to engage with the identified target group.

This again included Inverness Prison; I trained a peer trainer as a trainer and he now delivers the training in prison to those at risk. The results of this have been hugely positive so far. In a short space of time he has managed to engage with more individuals and deliver the training to them than the health and addictions staff have managed throughout the year. This is even more impressive when we consider the prison is in its fourth year of delivering this intervention and supplies of naloxone were starting to decrease given that the majority of people had already been trained. Or so we thought!

There will be the opportunity for the peer trainer to continue delivering the programme upon his own liberation, working in the community with the Harm Reduction Service and the community peer trainers.

My ongoing intention for the programme is to increase the number of peer trainers throughout Highland; there is no doubt that when it comes to overdose prevention and Naloxone training; peer trainers can have the maximum impact.

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