2019 Theme:
The Role of Treatment

#StopTheDeaths launched in 2018 to raise awareness of ways in which drug overdose deaths can be prevented.

Last year, #StopTheDeaths called on all stakeholders – people who use drugs, their families and communities as well as services, policymakers and wider Scottish society - to act to prevent overdose deaths.

The problem and the solutions belong to us all.

The initiative has been the subject of both national and international interest and support. There is interest in what people in Scotland are experiencing and doing in terms of responding to the crisis we face.

In 2019, #StopTheDeaths focuses on the role of treatment services and what they can do to prevent overdose deaths.

We all need to understand, support and promote good quality treatment services in this vital work.

#StopTheDeaths / Treatment

In Scotland, the official estimate is that there are around 58,000 people with a drug problem involving opiates and or benzodiazepines.  Every one of them should have access to high quality, evidence-based treatment.

Of the 1,187 people who lost their lives to a drug overdose in 2018, 1021 had opiates/opioids implicated in their death.

The World Health Organisation recommended treatment for opiate dependency is opiate substitution therapy (OST). 

To prevent overdose deaths OST must be delivered through suitably resourced, high quality services based on the evidence of what works. 

Treatment should be accessible, acceptable and of high quality:

  1. People should have immediate access to OST when they need it.

  2. People should be on the OST medication which, they agree with their service, suits them best in their current personal circumstances.

  3. People should be supported to switch from one OST medication to another, which they agree with their service most suits them as their personal circumstances change.

  4. People should receive OST that conforms to clinical guidelines and on a dose that works for them i.e. supports them to avoid symptoms of withdrawal and feel comfortable.

  5. People should receive their OST within services that are person-centred and trauma-informed.

  6. People receiving OST should be empowered and supported to challenge stigma they encounter and recognise any positive change in their lives.

  7. People should have access to the same OST treatment in hospital or prison as in the community and be adequately supported to transfer between these smoothly.

  8. People who want to end their OST should be supported to explore this possibility, and to investigate their motivations and practical supports that would support them to do this.

  9. People should leave OST through an agreed planned discharge and, if they need to, be able to re-engage with services and restart their OST immediately.

  10. People at risk of opiate overdose, including people receiving OST, should be provided with naloxone and appropriate training in its use.