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Reversing The Drug-Related Deaths Crisis

Logos for Collective Voice and the NHS substance misuse alliance

Collective Voice and the NHS Substance Misuse Provider Alliance has today published advice and recommendations to help cut the devastating number of drug-related deaths.

Each year the number of lives lost in England, Wales and Scotland due to drugs has increased.

Addaction has labelled the latest figures released earlier this month a ‘national crisis and a badge of shame’.

As part of Collective Voice, Addaction has worked with other treatment providers, the NHS and PHE to produce new guidance about how to reverse this trend and reduce the number of people whose lives are tragically cut short.

Key recommendations include:

  • Providing tailored treatment and guarding against the forced reduction or premature removal of treatment in order to meet targets – this has proven to have prevented at least 880 deaths over the last few years.
  • Having clear protocols to manage the risk of overdose, making sure, naloxone is widely available, particularly for at risk people leaving prison – pilots have proven that this has cut deaths.
  • Supporting people to get support for all their physical and mental health issues including testing and treatment for hepatitis C.
  • Increasing the number of people who need support accessing treatment, particularly by promoting and expanding access to needle and syringe programmes – which at the moment is only 50% adequate according to users.

The report highlights examples of how Addaction is already working to reduce drug-related deaths, such as improving access to rural communities and to multi-lingual recovery workers using telephone and video-conferencing; and having a national lead who oversees training in suicide prevention, including ensuring that staff feel able to talk comfortably and confidently about suicide with people who access their services.

The report – released on Overdose Awareness Day August 31 –  will be available to all commissioners across the country.

Addaction’s Director of Operations Anna Whitton, who contributed to producing the report, said: “At Addaction we’re passionate about saving lives and will lead in promoting these aims. Every life lost is one too many and as a country we desperately need to escape this heart-breaking spiral. We’d urge every commissioner and provider to read the report in full, take on this life-saving advice, and join us in reversing this catastrophic trend.”

Read the report Improving Clinical Responses to Drug Related Deaths.

Reversing The Drug-Related Deaths Crisis