How overdose reversal drug Naloxone is saving lives across the North West

A new project being trialled in Bolton and Bury is hoping to save lives by training people how to use a drug that reverses the effects of an overdose.

Naloxone is a life-saving Opioid overdose reversal drug that rapidly counteracts the effects of opiates like heroin, methadone, morphine or codeine.

It can be administered as an injection or a nasal spray.

The North West currently has the second highest rate of drug related deaths in the whole of England and Wales.

The North West has the second highest rate of drug related deaths in England and Wales

It's the highest since records began with deaths going up by 22% in the past six years - and nearly half involve an opiate.

Sean Halsey, from Bury, has seen first hand how Naloxone saves lives after using it on a friend who overdosed.

The 30-year-old is part of the new project being piloted, which is led by Achieve Recovery Services - part of Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust

Under the project, a team of peers take Naloxone out on to the streets and train members of the community in how to use it.

They want to reach as many people as possible as some have lived experience of drug issues and others who have lost friends and family to addiction.

Sean Halsey saved a friend's life using Naloxone

Sean is very open about his own battle with addiction. He started smoking cannabis at the age of 12 before moving onto cocaine and then heroin.

He has spent a large part of his adult life in jail but is now in recovery and on methadone.

Sean said being part of the project has given him a focus and he knows it is making a difference. He said: "Naloxone's going to save a lot of lives. I've seen it first hand.

"A friend of mine saved someone's life two weeks ago - he actually died for 12 minutes but he brought him back with Naloxone spray.

"So I know it's working and the kits we are handing out around the town are obviously being used."

Louise Dodd says she's lost too many friends from heroin overdoses

Louise Dodd is another Naloxone peer. She is in recovery from a crack and heroin addiction. She said she has lost far too many friends to heroin overdoses.

The mum of two is doing well in recovery but the accessibility of Class A drugs in her hometown of Bolton means temptation is never far away.

Louise decided to join the project because she wants things to change. She said: "Every life matters and just because someone uses drugs - it doesn't mean their life doesn't deserve to be saved."

George Charlton's the project's driving force. He has lost count of the number of times Naloxone saved his life.

A drug user for 15 years, he is now a qualified counsellor and works as an independent trainer and consultant for Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust.

George Charlton with the Naloxone peers.

George believes encouraging awareness and access to Naloxone within the community is a "no brainer".

He said, "People don't intend to overdose. People don't want to die. Yes, people should be in rehab.

"Yes, the safest place for people to be is in treatment and support, but there have been massive funding cuts nationally over the past decade which has meant it's been really difficult (to get help).

"What we know is Dame Carol Black's report is putting investment back into treatment. It's talking about drug consumption rooms, it's talking about heroin assisted treatment.

"It's talking about widening the supply of Naloxone."

Naloxone is a drug that can reverse the effects of opioids. Credit: PA images

What is Naloxone and how does it work?

Naloxone is the emergency antidote for overdoses caused by heroin and other opiates or opioids (such as methadone, morphine and fentanyl).

The main life-threatening effect of heroin and other opiates is to slow down and stop breathing. Naloxone blocks this effect and reverses the breathing difficulties.

Naloxone is a prescription-only medicine, so pharmacies cannot sell it over the counter.

But drug services can supply it without a prescription. And anyone can use it to save a life in an emergency.

If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol or drug problems, help is available.

If you live in Bolton, Bury, Salford or Trafford, you can contact Achieve Recovery Services on:

  • Bolton - 01204 483 090

  • Salford - 0161 358 1530

  • Trafford - 0161 358 0991

  • Bury - 0161 271 0020