According to a recent report by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA, 2019) on deaths due to substance use in Europe, there were 8200 deaths in the EU in 2017 due to single or multiple substance use. Four out of five deceased were men and 8-9 out of 10 were deaths related to opioid use, such as heroin. The report highlights that most deaths involved young people, around 30-40 years of age.
In Cyprus, according to the Monitoring Department/National Documentation and Monitoring Centre for Drugs data, in 2017 there were 16 deaths due to overdose, a number which increased over the previous years. The deceased were in the age group of 25-29 years and 8 out of 10 are men.
Measures being promoted in Europe to tackle drug-related deaths, focus primarily on overdose prevention, but also on the survival of overdose patients. In particular, the following measures are considered best practices (EMCDDA, 2017):
In Cyprus, the Cyprus Addictions Authority coordinates a comprehensive intervention measure, which provides naloxone (in nasal spray form) to opioid users participating in substitution and harm reduction programs. The intervention mandates the education of users on issues such as identifying the risk factors that lead to overuse, identifying overuse, proper ways to deal with overuse, naloxone administration methods, the naloxone effective period and basic first aid techniques.
The harm reduction programs involved in the action are:
NAAC’s aim in the next step, is to educate users’ family members on naloxone administration.