Half a million needles to reduce drug danger
Almost 500,000 free syringes and needles were handed out across Lanarkshire to users of illicit drugs last year.
A new report reveals that an estimated 6,900 people received injecting equipment from the NHS.
The annual figures show that 476,387 needles and syringes were distributed, an average of 1305 every day across the county.
Maureen Woods, leader of NHS Lanarkshire’s harm reduction team, said: “The purpose of injecting equipment provision (IEP) is harm reduction as providing injecting equipment has been found to be effective in reducing injecting risk behaviours in people who inject drugs.
“There are a number of health risks associated with injecting drug use, including bacterial infections such as septicaemia and tetanus and abscesses, cellulitis and collapsed veins which can result from injecting with a blunt needle.
“Injectors are also susceptible to a range of blood-borne virus (BBV) infections, the most prevalent of which is hepatitis C.
“Given this, IEP interventions help reduce the risk of infection and prevent the transmission of BBVs.
“It is important to note that IEP interventions also include advice on the safe disposal of used injecting equipment.
“The harm reduction team also works closely with the Lanarkshire Alcohol and Drug Partnership, which aims to prevent drug deaths through a combination of preventative work and working directly with those who have drug addictions with a focus on recovery.”
The figures for 2015/16 were released by Information Services Division Scotland, a part of NHS Scotland which provides health service data used in planning.
Due to data collection issues in 2014/15, NHS Lanarkshire data was not deemed reliable enough for use.
However, in 2013/14 the number of needles and syringes distributed was 393,689. The 2012/13 number was 370,049 and in 2011/12 it was 356,178.
Across Lanarkshire an average of 69 needles and syringes were distributed per problem drug user in 2015/16.
In Glasgow, including Castlemilk, Croftfoot, Toryglen and King’s Park, over 1.1 million needles were handed out last year.
The report says: “The provision of injecting equipment has been found to be effective in reducing injecting risk behaviours in people who inject drugs.
“This intervention helps prevent the transmission of blood borne viruses such as hepatitis C and HIV among people who inject drugs and reduces associated healthcare costs.”
Providing injecting equipment has been found to be effective in reducing injecting risk behaviours in people
Grim A report reveals details of the use of illicit drugs