Health chiefs will expand the use of overdose-blocking anti-opioid drugs to save more heroin users’ lives across North Ayrshire.

North Ayrshire’s Health and Social Care Partnership will increase the roll-out of Naloxonee – a drug used to block or reverse the effects of opium-based drugs such as heroin during an overdose.

A report updating North Ayrshire’s Integrated Joint Board explained that use of Naloxone had already saved at least 13 lives across the area, with 220 kits distributed last year.

Paul Main from the Alcohol and Drug Partnership told the board: “Naloxone, for those that don’t know is a method of injecting someone who has taken a drugs overdose with a stimulant that basically gives you 20 minutes extra time to get medical services to the person. That’s been used on about 14 occasions. We take the view that has been 14 lives saved.”

North Ayrshire Council recently declared a drug deaths emergency after the area saw 38 confirmed drug related deaths in 2018 –the highest across Ayrshire – and 34 suspected but unconfirmed deaths in 2019.

There were 1,187 drug deaths in 2018 in Scotland – the largest number since reporting began in 1996.