Prison leavers with history of drug abuse to be given Naloxone

Prison leavers with history of drug abuse to be given Naloxone

Prison leavers with a history of drug abuse will be provided with access to Naloxone under a new initiative aimed at preventing opioid overdoses during their reintegration into society.

Developed by the Irish Prison Service (IPS) in partnership with the HSE and the Irish Red Cross, the project aims to provide education, Naloxone access and vital resources to prisoners as well as their family members and friends.

There were 409 drug-related deaths in the State in 2020. Research suggests the risk of death from drug overdose is up to 12 times higher within the first two weeks of a person’s release from prison compared to others.

Caron McCaffrey, IPS director-general, said: “We are delighted to partner with the HSE and the Irish Red Cross on this life-saving initiative. Not only are we raising awareness inside our prisons but we are helping to raise public awareness about how they can help save a life.”

Banners have been installed at visitors’ entrances to prisons to raise awareness of Naloxone, with a QR code directing visitors to demonstration videos on which show how to administer Naloxone to temporarily reverse the effects of opioid drugs while awaiting medical care to arrive.

Professor Eamon Keenan, national clinical lead for HSE Addiction Services, stated: “Sadly the increased risk of death from overdose in the first weeks after release from prison is well documented.

“The HSE very much welcomes the Irish Prison Service commencement of the provision of intranasal Naloxone on release to people with a history of opioid use which may prevent fatalities in the event of an overdose.”

The Irish Red Cross has produced two educational videos which will be broadcast on the in-cell prison TV channel and are specifically designed to increase prisoner awareness and empower them to respond effectively in overdose situations.

The first video depicts a recreated overdose scenario within the prison setting, where a prisoner recognises the signs of an overdose and promptly alerts prison staff to save their friend’s life, including administering Naloxone.

The second video provides comprehensive information on recognising an overdose and instructs viewers on how to respond, emphasising the crucial role Naloxone plays. It also highlights the accessibility of naloxone upon release from prison or within the community.

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