LIFE-SAVING kits are being issued in a bid to save people who have overdosed on heroin.

Naloxone is an opioid antagonist – which means it blocks the body’s receptor sites when someone has taken too much of the class A drug, buying the person more time until paramedics arrive.

Figures show since the council started issuing naloxone kits in 2015, there has been a steady decrease in the amount of drug deaths in Southend from 47 deaths in 2013-15, to 32 in 2016-18.

These figures do not include the five deaths this July that led to a major police operation.

Shahida Akram, services manager at Southend Treatment and Recovery Service (Stars), said: “Naloxone can save lives, but this will only happen if people are carrying the kits and feel confident to use them.

“That is why we are prioritising efforts to provide naloxone training to as many people as possible in the community and to increase the availability of naloxone. Our naloxone training is free and open to everyone and we want to train as many people as possible to continue to prevent drug-related deaths.”

The kits contain a pre-made syringe solution, with five set doses, which is administered through a muscle.

If five minutes after the first dose is given, there’s no change, a second dose can be given and so on until the person recovers.

Trevor Harp, councillor for health and adult social care, said: “Any person or organisation who requests the training from Stars will receive it, along with the basic first aid needed to administer the doses. Naloxone doesn’t have any ill effects for those suffering with another condition, it only has an impact on those who are overdosing on heroin, so there is no harm caused by administering it regardless.

“It is a useful tool to have, especially people like our outreach workers, who are out talking to people on the streets and are more likely to come across someone in this situation.

“It buys more time for the emergency services to arrive, and sometimes a close call is what a person needs to seek the help to get clean. These kits can save a life, but also give people a chance to turn their life around.”

Stars issue the kits and the training, alongside accompanying basic first aid advice and drug-taking advice. People can self-refer or be referred in by another service and businesses who feel they might benefit from having the kits can also be trained.

To find out more information and book a place, contact Stars on 01702 431889.