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International Overdose Awareness Day and the N-ALIVE Trial

28 August 2013

In the UK, over 100 people die from a drug overdose every month and many of these deaths are preventable. International Overdose Awareness Day is on Saturday 31 August 2013. It is a day to remember those who have lost their lives due to addiction. It seeks to remove the stigma and shame associated with illicit drug use and addiction; to raise awareness of overdose prevention and drug policy, and to remind people of the risks associated with overdose.

The day links in with local community-based projects and the support services that are available in the community, including the provision of Naloxone. Naloxone is a medicine that provides a complete (but temporary), fast-acting, antidote for those who have overdosed on heroin and other similar drugs. If administered early enough it brings back consciousness and can save lives. It is regularly used by ambulance crews and by doctors in hospitals to reverse heroin overdoses. In England however, Naloxone is not routinely prescribed to prisoners with a history of drug use on release.

The N-ALIVE trial is a randomised controlled trial looking to reduce drug-related deaths from heroin overdose in ex-prisoners on their release from prison. The N-ALIVE trial team is testing whether giving an emergency pack of take-home Naloxone to prisoners with a history of injecting heroin will reduce the number of overdose deaths soon after release.

If a family member, friend or fellow user knows how to administer Naloxone, and knows that the person having an overdose is carrying some, they could give the life-saving injection of antidote whilst waiting for an ambulance. Information on how to administer Naloxone is provided on an information card and a DVD which are included in the N-ALIVE pack.