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Needle Syringe Programme proving popular on Island
06 February 2018

The Island Recovery Integrated Services (IRIS) are able to offer a needle syringe programme to the people that use their service. A Needle syringe programme is not only a harm reduction intervention and a way of encouraging people who use drugs into treatment but also enables the safe disposal of needles and syringes.

The facility offered at drug services and pharmacies across the UK, offers access to a wide range of the latest most clinically safe and practical equipment for IV drug users. Amongst these products at IRIS are specific items designed to reduce the risk of people who use drug sharing equipment thus reducing the likelihood of cross blood borne viruses (BBV) and infections.

Staff at IRIS have heavily promoted the programme in the last year as a key intervention and more and more people have taken the opportunity to use this service.

Training has been undertaken with all staff at IRIS to gain awareness around the wide aspect of injecting drug behaviours and the promotion of safer injecting practice.

Whilst people are using the exchange they are introduced to a wide range of interventions designed at minimalizing the risk of harm to themselves and others from using drugs. The programme offers:

  • Sharps bin and pocket bins for the safe disposal of needles and syringes, and ability to return full bins
  • Access to BBV testing to establish Hepatitis and HIV infection
  • Steel foil – which is used to safely in the smoking of Heroin. This is particularly to avoid toxic fumes coming off domestic foil when lit, but also as a tool to encourage IV drug users to try and switch at least some of their using methods to a safer process.
  • Syringes with detachable heads, which can be switched should veins be missed whilst injecting thus reducing harms from IV use.
  • Coloured never share syringes
  • Clean water in ampoules and hand cleaning / swabs – the water is particularly important for homeless IV drug users
  • Access to overdose prevention for opiate users via Naloxone kits supplied to take home after a short training packageRob Hayward, the Trust’s ‘Naloxone Champion’ at IRIS said “It has long been established that this intervention reduces the harms associated particularly with IV drug users but also the wider community as a whole, through the safe disposal of needles. We acknowledge that people will choose to inject drugs and therefore it is our professional responsibility that this is done in the safest most hygienic way, with less chance of unintentional overdose as possible”
  • People who attend IRIS can come and use the service without appointment as can members of the public who are not open to IRIS.

Research shows that 70% of drug users and 86% of alcohol users in community substance misuse treatment experience mental health problems.  A new draft ‘blueprint’ for improving mental health on the island has been published and residents are being asked for their views on this vision. Find a copy at: http://www.isleofwightccg.nhs.uk/get-involved/mental-health-blueprint

The first needle syringe programs were opened in 1987 in the UK in direct response to escalating BBV infections amongst IV drug users. It has long been established that this intervention reduces the harms associated particularly with IV drug users but also the wider community as a whole, through safe disposal etc.

Naloxone Kits - is a medication that quickly reverses the effects of an overdose from opioids such as heroin, methadone, fentanyl and morphine. It is often given as an injection into a muscle.

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