‘Drug related deaths are avoidable’ - South London and Maudsley and King's College London mark International Overdose Awareness Day 2022

King's Addictions building lit up in purple

Maudsley Hospital, King’s College London’s National Addiction Centre, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience main building, and The Weston Education Centre lit up purple to raise awareness for International Overdose Awareness Day 2022 and share the message that drug related deaths are avoidable.

International Overdose Awareness Day is a global event held on 31 August each year to raise awareness of overdoses, reduce the stigma of drug-related deaths and acknowledge the grief felt by families and friends.   

South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, together with the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN), King’s College London, are world-leaders in research on prevention of overdose deaths, first proposing Take-Home Naloxone (THN) to reduce heroin overdose death 25 years ago.    

This week, people under addictions services at South London and Maudsley will have access to a free supplementary naloxone antidote dose, a medicine which reverses the effects of opioids. This is an extra dose in the form of a glass ampoule which is stored inside a simple cannister which can be attached to keyrings.  

Professor Sir John Strang, Director of the National Addiction Centre of King’s College London and theme lead for substance use and harms at the NIHR Maudsley Biomedical Research Centre, said:  

“Every year, globally, more than 150,000 people die from opioid overdose, and yet we have an effective antidote, naloxone, which reverses the overdose within a few minutes.   

“The key rings are a reminder of the importance of carrying Naloxone with you. It’s also helpful for clinical staff who may need this where an overdose has occurred – particularly in multiple or extreme overdoses. 

“We are continuing our work to bring the best of the NHS and the best of British university minds together to tackle this problem of opioid overdose deaths.” 

Pharmacists and nurses at the Trust have piloted a successful project to support people in contact with the NHS’s wide range of treatment services in the community and inpatients on mental health units to take naloxone home following discharge – a service previously only been provided from within our addiction treatment services.  

Mental health nurses across the Maudsley Hospital have been trained to improve their awareness and knowledge of opioid drugs, recognising the signs, symptoms and risk factors of opioid overdose. 

David Bradley, Chief Executive of South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust said:

“We are proud to again be supporting International Overdose Awareness Day and help to reduce the stigma surrounding drug-related deaths. We hope that by supplying take-home naloxone in this way and ensuring our clinical staff across community and inpatient services, we can help to keep people as safe as possible.”  

Dr Emily Finch, Clinical Director for Addictions at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, said:

“We know that harm-reduction is the most effective way to reduce drug-related deaths.    

“Our inpatient and community services at Maudsley Hospital have been receiving and delivering Take Home Naloxone training to staff, service users and carers which we know can help to reduce the risk of accidental overdose in our community and support people who use our services.” 

Martin McCusker, Lambeth Service User Council, said: 

“It is important that we raise awareness of accidental opiate overdose. Increasing the number of Naloxone kits – whether it’s by injection, nasal or ampoule - in the community means more people can safely and quickly reverse opiate overdose.  It’s not rocket science, if you, a friend or family member uses illicit or prescribed opiates then you should carry a Naloxone kit, its super safe, quick and free.” 

In December 2021, then Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid and Dame Carol Black visited South London and Maudsley’s Addictions Services to launch a national drugs strategy. Find out more.  

Watch Professor Sir John Strang speaking about Take-Home Naloxone and International Overdose Awareness Day on the NIHR Maudsley BRC Twitter page

Tags: South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust - Events - Substance use and harms - Pain and Addictions -

By NIHR Maudsley BRC at 31 Aug 2022, 09:00 AM

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