Glasgow councillors are being trained to use Naloxone - a drug which can help prevent fatal overdoses.
Glasgow's Health & Social Care Partnership (GCHSCP) arranged training following a visit to the city's North East Recovery Community by Councillor Declan Blench, chair of the North East Area Planning Partnership.
Cllr Blench said: "I recently visited the NE Recovery Community and was really impressed at the scale of the work they do to support people in their recovery. I wanted to see whether there was anything I could do as a councillor to support the community's work, even in a small way. I was invited back to one of their Naloxone training sessions and I thought this is something we, as city councillors, should know how to use and when to use it."
Naloxone is a lifesaving injectable which is used to reverse overdoses. In the past year alone 182 naloxone kits have been distributed in the North East, with more than 5000 kits distributed citywide. Every week there are instances of naloxone being used to reverse overdoses in drug users.
Cllr Blench added: "I was pretty nervous about the training because I thought it would be something really complicated but it wasn't. I am amazed at how safe and effective Naloxone is. It's not the solution but it does reduce deaths and helps keep people alive so they can access recovery services, and I firmly believe it should be more widespread.
"I'd love it if people getting ready to leave the house automatically check their pockets to make sure they've got "phone, keys, wallet, naloxone" when they're heading out."
Glasgow has a network of alcohol and drug recovery communities operating across the North West, North East and South of the city. They aim to reduce stigma around addiction, promote recovery by making it visible within communities and upskill people for new and improved lives after addiction.
Every week, some 1500 people attend recovery cafes across the city, supported by 90 volunteers who help them to maintain abstinence and recovery.
They offer a programme of activity for people in recovery including arts, crafts, massage, yoga, reiki, welfare rights and housing advice, healthy lunches, shared experience sessions, recovery meetings, bereavement, and gambling groups. Children's 1st also provides activities for children during the sessions.
The recovery communities aim to boost people's self-confidence, help them overcome barriers to recovery and develop new skills to increase their employability.
The training for elected members was delivered by Naloxone Peer Trainer, Jimmy and Recovery Project Manager, Steff Kerr.
Jimmy said: "I have been in recovery for nine years and became a Naloxone peer in 2015. Since then, I've delivered Naloxone training in practically every homeless and addiction service in Glasgow. I love delivering the training and it has really helped with my confidence and self-esteem. It was fantastic to train and meet the councillors. I am now in employment but still give as much time as possible to deliver Naloxone training throughout the city as I'm very passionate about saving lives."
Councillor Allan Casey, City Convener for Workforce, Homelessness and Addictions, welcomed the opportunity to have training on the use of Naloxone and is now encouraging others to follow suit.
He said: "Most people who take drugs don't take them to die. But the risk is there. The more people who are trained and carry the naloxone kit, the more lives might be saved. Although it is recognised that involvement in a treatment programme substantially improves someone's chances of avoiding an overdose, having access to naloxone at the time of need can be the difference to life or death.
"Glasgow is still experiencing too high a number of drugs deaths despite having well-established alcohol and drug recovery services to help those whose addiction is so severe they are undeterred by the risk of disease or death.
"The training is helpful and straightforward enough to enable anyone without a medical background to administer it. It's certainly worth doing."
Steff, Recovery Project Manager, said: "I have managed a group of Naloxone peers since 2014 and they have trained and supplied Naloxone kits to over 2000 people. I have personally administered Naloxone three times in the past and have witnessed the amazing capabilities of this life saving drug. It has been an absolute pleasure to work with an amazing group of peers and their dedication and passion is limitless. I was so pleased that a number of Glasgow city councillors were prepared to sign up for the overdose training and I'm quite proud knowing there is now a group of elected members carrying lifesaving Naloxone kits."
Anyone who is likely to find someone experiencing an overdose in their family, community, workplace or in a public place can request a Naloxone Kit and be trained in its use.