14 Jul 2014 Campaign will see free kits to help reduce overdose death handed out
DRUGS workers will be handing out free kits to reverse the fatal effects of heroin overdoses this week as part of a major health promotion across Swansea, Neath and Port Talbot and Bridgend.
The campaign will also focus on the dangers of the disease Hepatitis C, and how to tackle it.
The week-long campaign is the first time co-ordinated action on drug health has been taken across the three local authorities.
The life-saving heroin overdose injection kits contain the pharmaceutical drug naloxone, which temporarily reverses the effects of an opiate overdose thereby allowing time for medical help to be sought.
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The kits have been used for a number of years in Swansea and are credited with saving dozens of lives.
Ifor Glyn, head of Sands Cymru — formerly known as Swansea Drugs Project — said the Alive and Well campaign would target vulnerable and chaotic drug users and their families, providing help and information and well as the naloxone kits.
He said: "Over the years we have seen far too many deaths in Swansea as a result of drug taking — sadly areas like Neath Port Talbot and Bridgend haven't escaped such tragedies either.
"These deaths are not just statistics, but individuals with partners, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters and even children.
"By issuing as many naloxone kits as we can , we will be reducing the chances of needless deaths or overdoses and the pain and heartache to their families and friends.
"All the agencies participating will be encouraging drug users to sign up for health promotion and overdose training and to sign up for their free naloxone kits.
"We already know that these naloxone kits have been used in Swansea and have saved lives."
The campaign will also look to increase awareness and knowledge about Hepatitis C which has affected more individuals in Wales than HIV.
Hep C, as it is known, is spread primarily by blood-to-blood contact and intravenous drug use and attacks the liver, leading to liver failure and liver cancer.
Mr Glyn said: "Hep C is a real worry for the drug using community, and something which has affected thousands of individuals in the UK.
"We aim to improve knowledge about the disease and more importantly share information on how to avoid contracting Hep C.
"We will also be able to direct individuals for testing or treatment."
The campaign brings together Sands Cymru, the Welsh Centre for Action on Dependency and Addiction, Ogwr Drugs and Self Help Group, the Cyrenians, and Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Heath Board.