Heroin assisted treatment pilot launches in Glasgow

Scotland’s first heroin-assisted treatment service has been launched in Glasgow, the city council has announced. The Enhanced Drug Treatment Service (EDTS) will treat people with the most severe, long-term and complex problems with ‘pharmaceutical grade diamorphine’.

The service is operated by the Glasgow Health and Social Care Partnership (GCHSCP) and has been licensed by the Home Office. Based in the city centre alongside homeless health services, the aim is to reduce rates of overdose and public injecting, as well as the spread of blood-borne viruses. Clients will receive treatment for other health conditions, and there will be a ‘holistic assessment of their social, legal and psychological needs’ as well as help in accessing other services.

The £1.2m pilot project will be open daily and is expected to treat around 20 clients per day in its first year and 40 in year two. Clients will need to attend the service twice a day, seven days a week and be ‘totally committed to the treatment’, says the council. Injectable heroin-assisted treatment will be supervised by trained nursing staff and restricted to people who are already involved with the city’s Homeless Addiction Team. 

A pilot heroin-assisted treatment programme was recently launched in Middlesbrough by the police and crime commissioner (DDN, November, page 5). Glasgow’s plans to establish a drug consumption room, however, have long been stymied by the Home Office’s refusal to change legislation to allow it, despite the backing of the Scottish Government. 

‘Sadly, Glasgow suffered a record number of drug-related deaths last year and there was also an increased number of non-fatal overdoses,’ said interim GCHSCP chief officer and chair of Glasgow Alcohol and Drug Partnership, Susanne Millar. ‘This challenging social issue demands innovative treatments and this Gold Standard service is leading the way in Scotland. It is aimed at people with the most chaotic lifestyles and severe addictions who have not responded to existing treatments. Not only are we are striving to save the lives of individuals themselves, we also aim to reduce the spread of HIV and to reduce the impact of addictions on Glasgow families and communities.’

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