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HSE chief pharmacist Denis O'Driscoll with Minister Catherine Byrne at event to promote use of Naloxone yesterday. Leon Farrell/

HSE offers training in treatment that can reverse drug overdoses

“Every use of Naloxone is potentially a life saved,” the HSE said.

THE HSE AND a number of its partners will offer free training events today in the use of overdose-reversing treatment Naloxone, to mark International Overdose Awareness Day.

It comes against the backdrop of statistics which show that Ireland has the fourth-highest rate of deaths from overdose in Europe, with many of the deaths preventable.

Training in the use of Naloxone – which can be administered in an intranasal or injectable manner – will be offered today by the HSE in conjunction with partners such as Crosscare, the Ana Liffey Drug Project and Merchants Quay Ireland today in Dublin, Cork and Limerick.

“Every use of Naloxone is potentially a life saved,” Joseph Doyle, national planning specialist at the HSE’s national social inclusion office, said.

“The most likely people to witness an overdose are other people who use drugs… The more we educate in how to administer Naloxone, the more lives we save.”

The HSE’s Naloxone project has seen over 1,600 kits issued, with 600 people who use drugs and their family members, and another 800 community workers trained on how administer it. 

Minister of State Catherine Byrne said that there has been over 100 reported uses of Naloxone over the past three years, which has potentially saved many lives.

In a statement, the Ana Liffey said that the latest figures for 2015 show that there were 348 overdose deaths that year, twice the number that died in road deaths. 

Its CEO Tony Duffin said: “The effects are devastating – every overdose death is one family’s tragedy. We must do as much as we can to prevent these premature deaths. The way to do that is to increasingly provide accessible lifesaving interventions to people who use drugs.”

It called for Naloxone to be made freely without prescription, the opening of the pilot supervised injecting facility, and the decriminalisation of small amounts of drugs for personal use. 

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