Research based on the overdose prevention site which was opened by Peter Krykant in Glasgow in 2020. With no financial or other support from local or national governmental agencies, he acquired a second-hand minibus and equipped it with basic first-aid equipment, needles and sterile equipment, and naloxone. It opened on 31st August 2020 (International Overdose Awareness Day), parked at a single site in Glasgow city centre.
The service operated for nine months without permission or funding from official sources. We report on the 894 injections supervised and recorded, and nine successful interventions with overdose events (seven opioid/two cocaine). Powder cocaine injection predominated either alone (60.6%) or with heroin (22.1%). Injection was mostly in the groin (68.0%) or arm (16.8%). More injections were recorded by males (70.1%). Around 65% of injection events featured an individual who was on a buprenorphine/methadone prescription.
It is feasible for an overdose prevention service to operate successfully in the UK without being shut down by the police or with negative consequences for the community. Future sites in the UK must tailor to the substances used by their potential clients, international trends (e.g. for fentanyl use) did not apply here. There is an urgent need and demand for these services in the UK to reduce harm, prevent and intervene during overdose, and provide vital psychosocial support for health and wellbeing in a highly marginalised population.
Nigel Brunsdon is the owner of Injecting Advice. He’s been working in harm reduction since the 1990’s, previously a frontline needle programme worker he now splits his time between photography and developing online resources for drugs workers and users.