Volunteering policies – helpful of hindrance?


  This article

Volunteering and the concept of Social Capital

refers to a case study analysis of a ‘socially deprived community’ in the North West of England, carried out between 1999-2001 shows how volunteering can be crucial in the development of social capital for some members of the community but for others it presents exclusionary issues. 


Volunteering has many different benefits, in some situations it is seen to be the ‘altruistic’ movement that arises out of the need to support others in times of struggle. Offering your time to help others less fortunate to survive in the face of adversity, this can be broken down even further into two distinct categories. The first as a means of achieving personal goals, perhaps volunteering within an organisation with the motive of gaining employment, alternatively, it may also be a community based method to bond against a common cause that is destructive to the community and therefore offering your support and time would then be to benefit the entire community.
Another aspect of volunteering which seems to be becoming more and more prominent is the use of volunteers as a means of ensuring the survival of organisations under constant threat of closure in times of austerity. Either way it is quite a significant, and some might say imperative part of society on the whole, one that combines needs, wants and unity for the greater good.
Amongst socially excluded groups, the need for mutual aid has an extremely important role. Exclusion from society has many detrimental aspects to it, mortality, significant health issues, hunger, poverty, homelessness, educational issues, to mention but a few, many fuelled by propaganda, media’s misguided misrepresentation which then becomes fear of what is misunderstood. And, perhaps it’s just my glasses that are dirty but when you look at a large number of the more socially excluded groups, the initial reasons for being excluded are because there is an element of previously mentioned fear, lack of understanding and education, and primarily a ‘common difference’ that is evident in say, drug user communities, disabled communities, ethnic/cultural communities, LGBTQ communities, aging communities, etc. The majority are vulnerable due to the afore mentioned detrimental aspects, and, in some circles, blamed for the prevalence of those very same aspects, which in turn promotes further reason for exclusion, ironically instigated by the very same people who implement the lies and propaganda in the first place.
Areas where this form of culture, status and class ‘discrimination’ is most prevalent reflect low social capital, where there are high levels of isolation and a reluctance, or resistance, which transpires negatively resulting in community members being less likely to partake in social activities, or contribute to the economic growth of their surroundings, let alone have any value for political governance. Here is where mutual aid can and does flourish, almost naturally, as if it were, a deeply engrained, human instinct to unite against a common threat and protect each other against further detrimental effects from external sources. Regardless of how this manifests in the community, protests, drug use, violence, crime, the majority of reactions can be whittled down to fear. Fear of further discrimination, fear of lack of support in health matters, hunger, homelessness, higher mortality rates. Fear of further punishment over their reaction to the degradation and ostracised nature of their community. And the more fearful the community become, the more extreme the reactions, and the more isolated they become. Until you are left with a community that has no prospects, no funding, and all relevant support services withdrawn through ‘lack of funding’ due to false economic claims and austerity measures.
Social inequalities in this scenario have increased fatalities, crime statistics, drug use, homelessness, etc, and the answer from our governing bodies and currently non-elected leader is to impose further sanctions, reduce funding, resulting in the closure of support services and build Mega-prisons to punish those who defiantly stand up for their rights, and the rights of others. (I believe In America there is the same principle but they call them FEMA camps) How sad is it that the defence of basic human rights is now a crime. How did we ever let it get to this?


A second model that is quite common is the professional who volunteers their time to offer some form of support, for those less fortunate than themselves. The ‘altruistic do-gooders’ who feel they have a moral obligation to support their fellow human beings in times of distress and adversity. Those, quite possibly, unaffected, or minimally affected, by the social inequalities, but who still have a conscience that compels them to offer their time and support to others. This is, on the surface, a humane and much appreciated approach to providing a plaster that partially stems the flow of life from a gaping wound.
The government openly supported this form of volunteering as part of the big society project by stating that those who in stable employment who were of the nature to offer their time in support would be allowed three days out of their normal work regime to carry out volunteer work in the community. But there is a catch with this kind of volunteering, highlighted in the article….

“An understanding of formal volunteering requires an appreciation of the informal social networking processes going on in the local community”

At risk of seeming partially objective to the volunteers that fit into this form of volunteering I would dare to say that someone who is in employment, healthy, and to a degree secure will not, with sufficient depth or weight, relate to the hardships encountered by those they seek to support. One particular aspect of this volunteering I find unfavourable is the university student who as part of their curriculum seeks a placement in the community to better understand the complexities that are a huge part of their subject matter. Like the law student who might volunteer in a drop-in service with a high prevalence of individuals who have, or still do, commit crime, or possibly an agency primarily supporting children excluded from school for being unruly. The negative impact of this form of volunteering might be that an individual might warm to the attention mistaking it for real concern and, as a result, gain a false hope only to be once again ‘let down’ when the student returns to full time education. This can be detrimental to those who are being ‘studied’ by those studying. Affecting trust, confidence, self-esteem. Personal value and personal security. However, it does have fantastic personal growth potential and adds to the security of a more fortunate future for the student.


This form of volunteering is one that has become quite prominent in addiction circles, where those fortunate to achieve ‘full’ recovery, as part of an amends process, or, as a step towards gaining employment in the field of addiction, remain in the safety bubble of the support network where they found their recovery to give freely of their time to help others through the turmoil of chaotic addiction. This form of volunteering has numerous benefits, and almost as many risks. For many, the concept of giving back toy a society that did nothing but take, quite possibly creating the whole scenario that resulted in your seeking support and guidance in the first place, can be a bitter pill to swallow, one which is eased down the throat by the ever
supportive councillor who crushes down the pill and lubricates the throat by stating that it is part of your program to learn patience, tolerance, forgiveness and accountability.  Well placed guilt trip put heavily on the shoulders of the still fresh and vulnerable recoveree, and, this also, coincidentally, expands the scope for delegating the workload to enable the providers to gain a more realistic possibility of achieving all the key performance indicators set out by commissioners, which they promised to achieve in their tender bid, for a ridiculously low amount of funding. These outcomes quite possibly would be otherwise unachievable without the use of volunteers.
So, realistically, and quite negatively, speaking, volunteers are, in this aspect, quite an imperative part of the overall success of the provider, just as much as the provider may have been an imperative part of the overall success of the individual. This importance and use of volunteers in this process has the added curveball of being equally beneficial to the individual.  Volunteering improves confidence, self-esteem, self-worth, dignity, and empowers people to move forward with a new lease of life, supported by the increased presence of all the afore mentioned skills and attributes promoting a more sustainable recovery journey and making long term success more attainable. Its almost like a ‘fluffy cloud’ form of aftercare.
Another supposed benefit of this volunteering model is that it disciplines you in preparation for the real world, learning skills such as time keeping, team dynamics, routine, etc.
But, there is a downside to this, that goes against the grain, quite drastically, delaying ‘full’ recovery.


Volunteer rights lays out the governments guide to your rights when volunteering. Which are quite basic, not compulsory, and as usual with governmental documents wide open to interpretation. It is flimsy and lays out what you can expect, but is not obligatory and quite often is not honoured by numerous organisations quick to use your services and free time. The level of supervision is normally quite low and if involved in the running of needle exchanges, or similar services within services then there is also the question of clinical supervision. Any training must be relative to the volunteer role, which doesn’t, in my opinion, support the final breakaway into mainstream society, restricting the scope for moving on, and perhaps in some cases delaying the moving on of some people. Although you should be covered by the companies public liability insurance, my experience tells me that this is quite often not the case, in fact, everyday staff are not always covered by this insurance, especially where nonmedical prescribing is concerned, have you checked? And, despite the importance of your valuable time and effort, you are not entitled to any kind of volunteer payments this is more protective of the companies rights and legal situation than it is of your rights and legal situation, which, it has already been established are practically non-existent.
Any payment given for volunteering can be mistaken as a form of contract for services rendered. This in turn blurs the lines should there be a tribunal for any reason. This non-payment clause, expands into any misleading promises or hints that you are working towards any possible employment, or paid work with the company in the future. Something I was lead to believe when I was volunteering was that I was working towards employment, an added bonus, but not why I was volunteering. I might not have stayed as long in the same place, if I’m totally honest, but, the fact I was called a peer supporter rather than a volunteer, effectively
meant I was still classed as a service user, somehow. It took me two years of passionate, uncompromising support to uncover that little gem. All in the title!
So, considering this do the benefits of volunteering actually help or hinder the early stages of an individual’s recovery journey?

A final question which expands on the ‘title’ scenario which although something you may not consider huge, actually makes quite difference, would it make any difference to make a ‘donation’ rather than a payment? A loophole that worked around the legalities of entry fees to support the illegal rave scene. Donations towards future free parties was not illegal whereas payment for entry was.

 Any feedback on this topic would be much appreciated.

Do you have personal experience of volunteering?

  Are you a volunteer manager and have found a way round policy of payment?

How do you show your respect and value for your volunteers?


e-mail: drugactivist@gmail.com

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Support Don’t Punish day of action

Reblogging from NAG England website, a blog contributed by Blenheim CDP. It’s a pleasure and a privilege to not only be a bonafide Nagger, but also to be in a position to attend all three UK events as a host, a presenter and a Naloxone distributor. What a month July is turning into. Hope to see as many there as can possibly make it. Please share this where appropriate. #SupportDontPunish # #JusticeForKarl #NAGEngland #NaloxoneGuerilla #EuroNPUD #SUSSED #SCUF #WeRise

Naloxone Action Group - England

The Support Don’t Punish global day of action is on 26th June every year and this year is set to be the biggest yet with 160 cities joining forces to call for drug policy reform.

The aim for the Global Day of Action is to produce high-profile and visually symbolic local actions. The events are planned locally and you can see here what events are happening near you on the campaign page. Look out for the NAG members that are getting involved in London, Liverpool and Bedford.

There are plenty of inspiration and useful resources online.

You can find out more information about Support Don’t Punish on their website.

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SUBLIMAZE: From Painkiller to Plain Killer

fentanyl its never you umtil it is


Here is a link to a story published on Storify a few weeks back. It traces the growth of Fentanyl from inception to present day. Fentanyl itself is an amazing medicinal breakthrough and the benefits when used in the right set and setting are numerous, however, when it breaks bad and begins a separate journey in the illicit world of criminal gangs and cartels, being reproduced in clandestine laboratories globally it’s a completely different story. This is the first installment and the second will follow shortly. Please spread the word or warning among your networks.


Fentanyl infographic

Enter a caption


heres how you can stay alive



A CROOKED disability assessor – Capita – bragged on TV that he earned £20,000 a month.

These assessments are far from productive as it is. The assessment decision is based on what is,seen and heard on the day. It does not include any historical evidence, and should not be valued above an individuals own GP evaluation of your condition. Disability rights used to be in a position where they were overseeing the whole situation but were effectively paid to deliver a days training to Maximus, Capita and Atos, then dismissed from the overseeing position. So now you are actually assessed by someone who’s knowledge is based on a few hours experience in the role. And your livelyhood depends on the outcome. An outcome that for many has resulted in fatalities. And the pay scale for the job is ridiculous, varying between £46,000 to £86,000 depending on ‘experience’ and, wait for it….’Gender’!!!!

Naloxone: The Next Episode

“1996, when Dan Bigg first brought the case for community use of Naloxone, and the wider need for this medication in the user community. Overdose, a primary cause of death among those who use opioid pain medications, illicit substances, etc has been known to be a risk that can be dramatically reduced by Naloxone since 1961 when first cited. As with needle exchange, and indeed many other campaigns where the basis was firmly in the realm of public health but not commercially acceptable, if you like. drug-war politics introduced a number of hurdles which meant delays in reaching a decision—and many needless, preventable fatalities. The User / Recovering community needs to shout louder and be more forceful in its advocacy so this is appropriately approached and adequately distributed within our communities”


Since the start of this campaign, when HIV and HCV were also an imminent risk to the user community things have moved forward dramatically, HIV and HCV are not only treatable but amenable to numerous prevention campaigns. New HIV infections among drug users have been cut in half in the last decade, largely due to the inception of harm reduction programs and approaches such as needle exchange programs, along with effective support, education and direction from peers, and peer led NGO’s such as INPUD (International Network of People who Use Drugs) to name one, whose priority was to reduce the risks associated with BBV route transmission, health risks, etc to reduce the risks of further harm and fatality in the user community, thus reducing the risk of spreading in to the wider community.

In 2016, we have now moved into an era where there is in fact a cure now available for HCV, unfortunately those that need it most may not be able to access it due to the extortionate costs as Gilead join the opposition in the drug war extorting the most vulnerable. So in general this shows that there can be positive outcomes, if we can just overcome the greed of big pharma, and other drug war barriers, when there is a platform where we can effectively work together, the the numerous campaigns and actions of relentless peer support groups and individuals have had an amazing impact on this.

On the subject of the high price of HCV cure a court case has just been launched in USA where a legal battle has erupted over a medicaid service provider refusing to prescribe HCV medication to two Apple Health patients based on the fact it is too expensive and only to be prescribed in special circumstances, these special circumstances seem to find their basis in financial groundings. The case is based on the fact that it is technically illegal to withhold medicines on the basis of cost. And to do so would therefore be negligent by default.


So onto the case for Naloxone globally, why are we still seeing marked resistance to the wider distribution of this life saving medication. Why have we not seen similar improvements here? Nationally I am very lucky to have been in a position to see this campaign take shape and launch itself with some of the most dedicated and passionate individuals I have ever met at it’s very core keeping it’s presence on the agenda in every region. As a result of this push from the community and our supporters we have managed to get Naloxone availability reviewed and as a result new legislation promoting wider access went live on October 1st, 2015. This was an amazing step forward and campaigners were more than appreciative of the recognition of our plights that our community members were dying needlessly in record numbers, we took the changes, we analysed them, we got legal reps to analyse them and we scrutinised every word of the amendment to the medicines act, which can be found here,

Amendment to Human Medicines act (no. 3) Regulation 2015 

This stated that any provider or….

‘persons employed or engaged in the provision of drug treatment services provided by, on behalf of or under arrangements made by one of the following bodies–

(a) an NHS body; (b) a local authority; (c) Public Health England; or (d) Public Health Agency.

The explanatory note that accompanied the amendments which are in legal talk and hard to follow for the typical lay person like myself can be found here….

Explanatory Memorandum

In this it again clearly states that ‘Regulation 10 amends Schedule 17 to the 2012 Regulations to enable the prescription only medicine naloxone hydrochloride to be supplied by drug treatment services for the purpose of saving life in an emergency

And just to make sure I’m not missing anything out. The explanatory memorandum that accompanied the correspondance e-mails and messages is here in full pdf….

Full Exlanatory Memorandom (pdf)

Very clear and precise in it’s aims and objectives. And to make it even clearer in it’s aims and objectives, here is a little snippet from the ADHP Position Statement on Naloxone

The Public Health England guidance published to inform commissioners about the impact of naloxone and the new regulations, makes clear that the legislative change that came into force in October 2015 means that, similar to Water for Injections, naloxone is exempt from prescription only medicine requirements when it is supplied by a drug service commissioned by a local authority or NHS (or Public Health Agency in Northern Ireland or Public Health England). It may then be supplied to any individual needing access to naloxone, which could be:
someone who is using or has previously used opiates (illicit or prescribed) and is at potential risk of overdose
a carer, family member or friend liable to be on hand in case of overdose
a named individual in a hostel (or other facility where drug users gather and might be at risk of overdose), which could be a manager or other staff.
Now we can respectively look at the impact the amendment has had so far. There are still at least one third of the 152 Health and wellbeing boards that have shown no change and no signs of change. Which is unacceptable and once the information has been collated and verified as to where they are exactly there will more likely be another media campaign launched in each respective local area. Up until now the majority of campaigners have for the most part refrained from directly mentioning specific services when raising issues at national level, it has been entirely focused on legislation and initiating changes from the top down with numbers of activists on the ground preparing their communities by training and raising awareness of the campaign in general, the real advocates for change and without a doubt the real heroes of the frontline movement, My hat goes of to you guys and I have nothing but respect for every one of you. You all know who you are. Kudos.

But I believe the next stage will be more upfront and personal. The bottom line is that the individuals that providers are in charge of under their primary care are dying, statistics are rapidly rising at an alarming rate and you have the green light to do something about it, but choose not to. As I see it you should not be in the sector professing to be something you are not. It’s time to start relegating services and showing support for those who openly show compassion and understanding and really do care whether their clientelle / stakeholders live or die. It seems to be forgotten who actually is in the position of power here despite the fact the title gives it away….service providers. Providing a service that should be fit for purpose and designed with the needs and wants of the customer first, not agenda. If a service is performing badly it reflects in the actions and feedback of those who access it and if that feedback is correctly placed and consistent, then it has to have an effect on the future survival of that service.

IN the remaining two thirds there is a varied level of acceptance around the legislation and how it has been adopted. The more common report that is coming through is that the majority of providers have adopted the program and are handing out kits to their service users. Which is good but takes us back to the original amendment to legislation in 2005 where it was recognised that there was a glitch in the law, in that there was no point providing a kit that was illegal to use for anyone except the one whose name was on the prescription. This was amended to read that it could be used by anyone for the purpose of saving a life. This meant as time progressed and the law fell into place that when the current campaign came about we had the added bonus of this little clause that basically gave right of way to anyone who had a vested interest in saving lives and who might find themselves in an overdose situation, which could mean absolutely anyone with an ounce of compassion. So given the progress in the battle for Naloxone and the background leading up until now surely the 2005 amendment and the more recent 2015 amendment together in their aims would mean that anyone can present at the door of a provider where naloxone is available and either present a certificate stating that they have been trained by a recognised trainer or be trained by a recognised trainer inhouse and walk away with a life saving kit…..

Surely?                                                                   No?                                                              Why not?

Is it cost again that is rearing it’s ugly head, so let me take you back to the current court case where it is being fought that this is against human rights and discriminatory, so what if the court judges in favour of the case, and campaigners or even more pertinent Parents who have lost children or similar bring out a case here on the same basis…..just a thought.

Here’s an interesting little section of law that I have been finding interesting in it’s content and context. It’s an area known as tort law and it basically states this…

Image result for negligence

(Elements: Duty, Breach, Causation, Scope of Liability, Damages)

Duty of care

1.General Duty of Reasonable Care.

a. Imposed on all persons not to place others at foreseeable risk of harm through conduct
b. Adults Reasonable person standard (objective)
c.Children Child standard of care i.Same age, experience, and intelligence
d. Physically disabled persons reasonable person with same abilities

2. General Duty

a. Duty to act reasonably to protect persons you may come in contact with if you have:

1. Knowledge of probable danger arising.
2. Knowledge that danger may affect others other than specific individual.
3. Proximity or remoteness of the outcome is a factor to consider (scope of liability is expanded and knowledge pertaining to scope of liability)

Limited Duty Rules

a. No duty to assist, act, or rescue
1. Misfeasance – where you’ve caused harm through your actions
2. Special Relationship (special dependency, working relationships, business relationships)
3. Voluntary Assumption of duty
a. Must rescue in a reasonable manner
b. If have special skill set, standard of care is reasonable person with the same skills
c. If ∆ is negligence places good Samaritan rescuer in harm’s way, ∆ is also liable to rescuer
4. Innocent prior conduct – (Misfeasance)
a. Duty to act to prevent the harm from occurring
b. Duty to assist if harm does occur
5. Reliance on a gratuitous promise
6. Intentional prevention of aid by others
7. Statute

or another more understandable definition might be…..

“A failure to behave with the level of care that someone of ordinary prudence would have exercised under the same circumstances. “ The behaviour usually consists of actions, but can also consist of omissions when there is some duty of care.


The House of Lords decided to create a new principle of law that stated everyone has a duty of care to their neighbour, which thereby supports this particular situation. Negligence is a form of tort which evolved because some types of loss or damage occur between parties that have no contract between them, and therefore there is nothing for one party to sue the other over.

Image result for negligence

And so goes the case for Naloxone provision without restriction of access or conditional supply only.

And there I rest my case……for now.

In you have any Naloxone stories you’d like to share please send them to ….


I’d love to hear from you.

Also If you would like to share your testimony….



(Are) The United Nations on Drugs



(Are) The United Nations on Drugs.


 United Nations have exerted a unique element of drug control globally since 1909. So what has that ‘control’ really achieved over  that century+

In an extension to the World Drug Report (chapter 2) a paper entitled ‘A CENTURY OF INTERNATIONAL DRUG CONTROL’ the opening statement read…..



“For those who doubt the effectiveness of drug control, consider this. In 1906, 25 million people were using opium in the world (1.5% of the world population) compared with 16.5 opiate users today (0.25% of the world population). In 1906/07, the world produced around 41,000 tons of opium – five times the global level of illicit opium production in 2008. While opium used to be produced in a huge belt, stretching from China to Indochina, Burma, India, Persia, Turkey and the Balkan countries, the illegal production of opium is now concentrated in Afghanistan (92%)”


The illegal production of opium is indeed concentrated in Afghanistan a country and no longer overseen by the Taliban who regulated and exerted extreme measures to ensure quality control and a consistency in supply. Instead it is now regulated by the US of A.  No more quality control, no reduction in supply, other than a complete drought during take over which resulted in a sharp spike in drug related deaths during 2008-9, and obviously no respect for HR principles in that not one ounce of sense passed over under tupe law to ensure consistency.


Oh yeah, they were meant to be ending the war on drugs silly me?


Obviously the new contract / agenda, (not available via Freedom Of Information Act for some unknown reason) had a radical ‘hidden’ agenda,’Operation Blatantly Obvious’ based loosely on the 1996 Nicaraguan agenda and legislation but without the ‘Contra’versial partnership for a more complex service provision that covers all angles.  As it stands nothing changed. It still rages on ‘under new management’


In 1906, the ‘huge’ belt that is mentioned including China, who incidentally were responsible for the first anti-opium edict. Emperor Yung Ching, imposed severe punishment on any sellers or opium business traders back in 1729. Prohibition proving itself a dismal failure even back then it would seem. Yes China, were, unwillingly, subcontracted to India due to the increased demand for opium. Which incidentally, or coincidently, increased significantly when the British occupied India, isn’t history such a wonderful thing?

Quote from the ‘Opium Monopoly’ – ‘’China was powerless to protect herself from this menace, either by protests or prohibition. And as more and more of the drug was smuggled in, and more and more of the people became victims of the habit, the Chinese finally had a tea-party, very much like our Boston Tea Party, but less successful in outcome. In 1839, in spite of the fact that opium smoking is an easy habit to acquire and had been extensively encouraged, the British traders found themselves with 20,000 chests of unsold opium on their store-ships, just below Canton. The Chinese had repeatedly appealed to the British Government to stop these imports, but the British Government had turned a persistently deaf ear. Therefore the Emperor determined to deal with the matter on his own account. He sent a powerful official named Lin to attend to it, and Lin had a sort of Boston Tea Party, as we have said, and destroyed some twenty thousand chests of opium in a very drastic way. Mr. H. Wells Williams describes it thus: “The opium was destroyed in the most thorough manner, by mixing it in parcels Of 200 chests, in trenches, with lime and salt water, and then drawing off the contents into an adjacent creek at low tide.”


This off course pissed our British contingent off and again, coincidently,  as with all envoys in this kind of interaction, poor Lin was found two weeks later propped up against a tree with his favourite book and a  gunshot to the back of the head,  8cal, in his hand was a 9mm. The obvious analysis was suicide, so, so,  sad.  Or was it a 1ml in his hand and over  1gal of opiates in his system, I forget……

…..and digress…..

Anyway this was to be the start of the biggest Opium war to date, led by, and indeed won by our proud little firm of international dealers, sorry, British merchant bank, er sorry,  sailors  who steamed up the Yangtse, demanding the Chinese give them their gear back and compensation for the damaged goods. At the same time opening up the shipping ports to continue trading as per usual. God save the Queen?



India at this point just kicked back and ensured production was consistent and steady to meet demands, to supply, to meet demands.


Then, 15 years later,  as sales and demand again grew, more outlets were needed so our good old sales people put in the proverbial boot , (no pun intended) resulting in a second war, smothered under religion….”Great Britain, the first Christian power, really waged this war against the pagan monarch who had only endeavoured to put down a vice harmful to his people. The war was looked upon in this light by the Chinese; it will always be so looked upon by the candid historian, and known as the Opium War.” (Middle Kingdom)

In 1917, China was practically free from the native-grown drug, and foreign importation had practically ended. The final years of native-grown poppy indulgence was enjoyed only be upper classes while the lower working classes were subject to sever punishment.

So back to the initial statement in the original topic. Restriction to India of the restriction of opium growth was a natural occurrence, and restriction in production and sales was because the Chinese were no longer needed to smuggle or market the substance. The ports along the Yangtse were now operating under International law and manned by concessions in each port of  German, Austrian, British, French, Russian, mainly but not exclusively.  The United Nations were still an unfertilized egg waiting for some wanker to spawn them with a one off, lucky? shot.


My last edition to this prequel to the actual birth and report to follow is quite basic and, in my opinion blatantly obvious.  The declaration that there are far less opioid uses globally, do we really need to put our answers on a postcard here? I personally, am going to go out on a limb here and take a wild guess that it could have something to do with the elements of control, or numerous different attempts at control,  exerted over the last 110 years, by enforcers who feel the need to control in the first place. Yep, think I’m safe in saying the numbers are decreasing because….

WE ARE DYING OUT HERE?….Just saying…….But hey I could be wrong?



” I miss my daddy every day,he was my best friend”

This testimony was given to me last week. It shows the harsh truth of the devastation left behind after the loss of a parent to overdose. I have kindly been given permission to reproduce the testimony in the hope that it raises awareness of the effects overdose can have on significant others left in it’s wake. I personally found it extremely emotional to read and due to the nature of the content have also ensured that the owner of the testimony has been supported throughout all interactions. Further support options have also been offered and ongoing support is currently being put in place.

Please take a moment out of your day to read this testimony and imagine how it must feel to have to deal with something like this every day of your life, from a child who lost her father, and could never understand why he had left her, almost blaming herself thinking that it was her fault, to an adult who still struggles to come to grips with the whole event. Living through the cold attitude of not only the strangers who taunted but those around her who she thought were her friends, her carers…..how cruel life can be. Then imagine how you would feel if someone told you, or you read somewhere that things could’ve been different, his death was preventable. Can you feel the anguish and sadness, the pain, the shame, the anger, the deep feelings of loss and powerlessness over not only the actual loss but the reactions from other people. Reactions that reach out beyond you and into your own family life, affecting your children. I personally couldn’t. I’ve lost close friends and acquaintances but not a family member, a parent. I wouldn’t dare say I could even remotely come close to feeling the same.

What I can do is continue to try my best to ensure that everything that can be done to reduce the risks of fatalities, reducing the numbers of children being left without a parent, or parents being left without a child. So can you.

Every life lost is someones daughter, someones son, and every loss is preventable….

  “I am the chibroken heartedld of an addicted parent, my father was a heroin addict who eventually lost his battle with addiction.  I miss him every day”

  On august 9th 2004 I was minding my own business when I had a phone call  from my uncle who  wanted to know where I was. My mother and step father had gone away the day before so I thought he was coming to ask if I wanted something to eat. I was living in a hostel at the time so the offer of a free meal was always a bonus. He said he was coming to pick me up.

I waited for him to come and get me, and when he turned up he wasn’t smiling, the reason for this was that he had to tell me that my father had died.  I laughed, a nervous reaction, I don’t really know if it was disbelief or shock,  but then he repeated those words and this time it sunk in, I realised that it was real and I broke down, the tears came, and I couldn’t control them, I cried so much. We didn’t know what he had died of at this point, we only knew that our daddy was gone. I remember it like it was yesterday, that day I lost my best friend, my daddy.

behind bars My dad was known to the police, which is not something either he or the family were proud of, but the addiction taken a hold of him.  He was in prison and out again, and on and on I seemed to go, never ending. Prison didn’t seem to make any difference to my father, he didn’t seem to care. I didn’t know the underlying reasons at the time so couldn’t have understood just how much control his addictions had over him. But looking back I understand better now I know. I can see that prison wasn’t the solution or what he really needed. He needed help, not punishment.

I remember when I found out my father was taking Heroin and how. I went off the rails for a short period after the loss of my father and the local Police Station became my second home for near on two weeks.

I remember one day when I had gone in to the police station and the CID were talking to me about my father, saying to me heroin and drink doesn’t mix. I didn’t understand? I kept saying that my daddy didn’t do heroin.

This was their way of telling me, a grieving daughter, that her daddy was a heroin addict.

I didn’t believe them, I didn’t want to believe them but I kept hearing the same thing over and over, and it got worse. Eventually I rang up the coroner to ask for him to tell me the outcome of the post-mortem, he wouldn’t give me the information, I found out later that he had spoken with my auntie and she had requested that I not be told. The first time I actually found out for certain what my dad had died of when it was released in the local paper. My whole world fell apart when I read the headline, there it was in black and white ‘WELL KNOWN DRUG USER DIES OF OVERDOSE’ That was how I found out that my dad had died of a overdose, I felt annoyed, hurt, lost, and numb, all at the same time. I couldn’t believe that I had lost my daddy in this was….something inside me died with him that day.

I felt different Everyone I met afterwards, I would tell them upfront who I was and how my father had died.  I think it was because I was scared that if people found in son other way, they would like me, this was my way of coping with it. There is a lot of stigma attached to addiction, people judge you and because my daddy had died this way, some people used to call me names like ‘dirty smackhead’ and shout nasty things to me in the street.

Because of the way my father died I was made to feel like I didn’t belong, and ended upon my own a lot. Son people told me it was only a matter of time before I started taking drugs as well.

This all had a negative effect in me and my whole life was effected by this spiteful, horrible, ignorance.

sometimes I blame myself I have a child who for different reasons, went to live with her dad. As part of the process I had to undergo an assessment. At the assessment the lady kept saying to me I shoul
don’t / couldn’t  class my dad as my best friend because he was a drug addict, but he was still my dad, I believed at the time that his addiction had killed him. All I know I that I didn’t have him there any more, and how it affected me. The past and everything in it became a huge thing used against me regarding my ability to look after my children, questioning my parenting skills?
Underneath all of this no-one seemed to notice that I had lost my dad and a huge part of my heart died with him.

NALOXONE ANGELS I now know that there is medication available that can reverse the effects of an overdose and wish that this has been available when I lost my daddy. I might still have him today.

Prison didn’t help my daddy, no-one ever offered my daddy the help that he needed, instead he just became ‘just another junkie’ a label that deeply affected my future and my child’s future.

I was only 18 when I lost my dad has been dead 12  years this year and will never meet his grandchildren nor will he see my little sister or me get married.


To find out thaROOM FOR CHANGEt he could have been saved and that he could still be here has made me realise that there are other, more sensible ways of dealing with addiction and the people who fight with it daily. Things need to change and we need to start showing that we care, offering help where we can and when we can. My daddy wasn’t a criminal, he was a man who was struggling to  dope every single day of his life, and I loved him so much….


“I can still hear my daddy sometimes, I can see him when I close my eyes, I can even smell him close by sometimes. I remember his smile and all the good things about him. But I can’t touch him, I can’t feel his touch, I can’t reach him at night just before I wake up crying and he’s left me again, over and over. I miss my daddy so much. He was my best friend”


(Original post can be found here….A testimony from the child of an addicted parent.)


Thank you all for taking the time to read this and please do let me know your thoughts..

The young lady who wrote this has kindly given her details so that others going through the same can connect. They have not been printed for obvious reasons but if you would like to get a message to her she is available via this link. If you feel that you would like to share your testimony or would like to get involved in any current or future campaigns to help reduce the harms and risks of overdose and any other harm induced by current policy and legislation. Please don’t hesitate to me at….


or alternatively call me on 07500948157.


sdp campaign




Implementing local Take Home Naloxone Programs (UK)

cropped-eye_drops_water.jpgOn 19th February, Public Health England released guidelines aimed at local authorities for Take Home Naloxone programs. This is aimed at following the recommendations in the letter from Department of Health (Jane Ellison) to Advisory Council for the Misuse of Drugs chair Les Iverson where there was a date for the National implementation for Naloxone programs, and recommendations into the preparation for the programs to be initiated on 1st October, 2015. Although the general consensus around this date is that it is too far in the future and leaves to much scope for a further increase in drug related deaths, this date is the one that NAG (Naloxone Action Group) England are now holding providers to as a set deadline. Here are a few ways in which you can inform / support your local authorities to ensure that this is being implemented locally in time to meet the 2015 deadline.

Follow hyperlink for copy of guidelines: http://www.nta.nhs.uk/uploads/take-home-naloxone-for-opioid-overdose-feb-2015.pdf


UK Law.

Like all medicines in the UK, naloxone sale and supply is regulated under the Medicines Act of 1968. This act brought together most of the previous legislation on the regulation of medicines but also introduced some new legal provisions for the control of medicines. When thinking about the regulation of medicines, it’s important to recognise that medicines (broadly) fall into one of four categories;

  • GSL. General Sales List Medicines sold or supplied direct to the public in an unopened manufacturer’s pack from any lockable premises
  • P. Pharmacy Medicines sold or supplied from registered premises by, or under the supervision of a pharmacist
  • POM. Prescription Only Medicines sold or supplied to named patients by prescription. Applies to all injectable preparations, including Naloxone
  • POM (CD). Controlled Drugs

As stated above, injectable naloxone is a POM and can therefore only be SUPPLIED to a person identified as ‘at risk’ of potential future opiate related overdose. It can be supplied to the friends/loved ones of those identified as at risk, but only with the written consent from the person for whom it’s to be supplied.

Who can administer naloxone?

Anyone can administer naloxone for the purpose of saving a life. In November 2005 naloxone was added to the list of injectable drugs in Article 7 of the Medicines Act, this is the part of the act that covers drugs like insulin for diabetics (and adrenaline, atropine, snake anti-venom etc).

Who can supply naloxone?

Naloxone can be prescribed by any medical doctor, but can also be prescribed by some other registered medical staff using a Patient Group Direction (PGD). This means that naloxone can be given out via drug projects that don’t necessarily have a doctor on their staff.

(Taken from Scottish drugs forum Naloxone: http://www.naloxone.org.uk/)

This would mean that in order to get Naloxone out into the community there needs to be a prescription given to an individual who has been ‘catagorised’ as high risk. This could mean treatment naive community members, those still in treatment, those leaving treatment, including residential rehab, prison leavers, in light, anyone receiving any kind of opioid medication, on prescription.

At this particular moment in time, following a freedom of information request carried out by National Needle Exchange Forum, Release and NAG Engand members, the evidence would suggest that 1 out of every 3 Health and Wellbeing boards are supplying naloxone. Considering the high level of drug related deaths Nationally in 2013. This seems to be a small amount for such a major public health issue.

In light of this information, there are a number of things you can do locally to help push this program forward and to make sure that it is firmly on the agenda in your area in line with the guidelines.

  • take-home-naloxone Identify local champions: Local authorities will be looking to identify local champions. This could be you, or it could be someone who is sympathetic to the need for Take Home Naloxone programs. If your local MP signed the Early day motion 445 – NALOXONE AVAILABILITY – UK then you may well have you local champion there, sympathetic GP’s, Pharmacists, local recovery / harm reduction groups, etc. Identify who your champion is and encourage them to engage with Naloxone Action Group (NAG) This can be done via the NAG England website or via the facebook forum page. This will enure that they have all the support they may need when engaging with any local authority agents on any level.

website: https://nagengland.wordpress.com/

facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1455313511394512/?fref=ts

  • Organise an initial ‘informing the managers’ or ‘train the trainer’ session: While this is being done by local authorities, you could be raising awareness of your plan of action to disseminate information into your community. If you are planning local train the trainer sessions or have been asked by your local authorities who might be delivering the training, but are unsure how to go about it, please contact me at drugactivist@gmail.com and I will direct you to your area representative. You can then pass relevant information over to local authorities and support them in initiating the training.
  • Consider who will receive Naloxone supplies, and how, users and carers, hostels and pharmacies, etc: The aim here is to have Naloxone freely available in all providers that come in contact with high risk individuals, and eventually, being ambitious, over the counter. However, the first step would be identifying key areas where there are high risk individuals, treatment services, hostels and prisons, might be a good start. The local authorities should be more that aware of where there is an immediate need. You may have to prioritise here as a first step and decide where there is the most benefit to be had. Needle exchange programs, would be an ideal starting point.
  • Consider who will pay for Naloxone supplies in different areas: Commissioning for such programs sits firmly with Department of Health as the overseers of Public Health but on a local level responsibility sits with the CCG (clinical commissioning groups) following a transfer of responsibilities through localism. To find out your local CCG contact details: NHS England » CCG Directory Also as a matter of interest here Frontier Medical Group are now the official distributor of Prenoxad / Naloxone kits for Martindale Pharma so they will be the single point of contact for provision of supplies.
  • Agree how you will re-supply people when Naloxone is used or it expires, and who will pay. Will you have a system that flags up appraoching expiry dates to keyworkers, pharmacies, etc: As with any form of medication there needs to be a medication management database for monitoring purposes. This would need to monitor all needs and results pertaining to Naloxone provision. How many kits were given, when given, adverse effects of medication, etc. Once the basics for this are done then it would need to be reviewed to see how to monitor a case by case study of each individual involved in the program. All input would need to be evidence based and precise in it’s records. Medication regimens for every naloxone reciever need to be monitored and also all different naloxone products of there is to be intranasal available as well as injectable, etc. Most of this should be in place for already existing medications in the community and it would simply be a matter of adding Naloxone to the list of medications already monitored. Another thing that may need to be discussed here is the need to expand the monitoring to co-morbid conditions and socioeconomic status, substance use, homelessness, chronic health conditions, employment status, etc. As already stated there should already be a monitoring system in pace which could provide the basis on which to ad the information needed regarding Naloxone provision. This action lay with local authorities primarily so does not hold any weight on what you might be forming as a part of your action plan to offer support locally.
  • Hold regular meetings for Naloxone champions – including people who use drugs – to encourage progress, discuss barriers of concerns, and learn from each other: This is already happening in a number of areas so it is simply a matter of inviting the local authorities to come along and join the already existing platform that you have provided. If there is no platform locally, you can create one in the form of a local Harm Reduction Cafe where local provision and action plans can be discussed and implimented. All you need to set one up is available on the website. This should be publicised and openly supported / attended by all providers who deal in the care of those considered at risk in the community. Also as stated attended by local service user reps, groups, and people who are currently using substances.
  • Explore the products and prices available, speaking to the local pharmaceutical representative,  and decide together with local providers which to purchase: At this moment in time in the UK there is only one licensed product available and that is Prenoxad Injection This sight gives you all the relevant information around this particular product. The main suppliers of this product as stated before are Frontier Medical Group A kit costs £18 and there is an agreement in the contract with the pharmaceutical company that this price will stand unchanged for at least the first three years of the contract. It has been advised that two kits are complimentary to the needs of those who would be accessing services for it. One to carry on their person and one to leave in home environment. So if you can find out the local statistics pertaining to injecting drug users then you will effectively be able to get a rough estimate of how much is needed to ensure enough kits are bought in to meet the needs of your user community. There may be an online needs assessment for local IV users on your local authority webpage that can help you with this.
  • Complete the paperwork and processes of a PGD, working with the local CCG and director of public health as appropriate:A PGD is a written agreement that in the case of naloxone allows nurses or pharmacists to distribute the drug to people at risk of overdose. It’s important to note that a PGD is only related to the supply of the drug and has nothing to do with administration (as we’ve stated above anyone can legally administer naloxone to save a life). A PGD should contain the following information:
    • The name of the business to which the direction applies
    • The date the PGD comes into force and the date it expires
    • A description of the medicine(s) to which the direction applies
    • The class of health professionals able to supply or administer the medicine (as named individuals)
    • Signature of a doctor or dentist, as appropriate, and a pharmacist
    • Signature by a representative of an appropriate health organisation
    • The clinical condition to which the direction applies
    • A description of those patients excluded from treatment under the direction (if applicable)
    • A description of the circumstances in which further advice should be sought from a doctor and the arrangements for referral
    • Details of the appropriate dosage and maximum total dosage, quantity, pharmaceutical form and strength, route and frequency of administration, and minimum or maximum period over which the medicine should be administered. Legal status of the drug should also be indicated
    • Relevant warnings, including potential adverse reactions
    • Details of any necessary follow-up action and the circumstances
    • A statement of records to be kept for audit purposes

Sample PGD: http://www.naloxone.org.uk/images/pdf/pgd%20naloxone%20approved%20apr%202011.pdf

  • Inform and liaise with police, local coroners, ambulance service lead, hostel managers and pharmacies: This one is also something that is best coming from local authorities as experience tells us that correspondence is less than positive when coming from action groups. However if you have been identified as local champion then it might be possible to be cc-d in on any local correspondence or contact to keep you up to date with progress and to put you in a position to inform the local action group of that progress. By all accounts local police should be trained and equipped and it is surprising how many police do not know what Naloxone is, following a number of ‘stop and question’ scenarios I was asked a number of questions surrounding the medication but when I suggested training options they never came to anything. Lcal coroners could be a valuable asset with regards to them being able to give first hand statistical data on causes of death, although this is jaded as cause of death isn’t always recorded correctly. This is for the benefit of the family afterwards. And also there are times when the actual cause of death cannot be attributed to one single underlying cause. This can at times work in favour of some research but in this particular case it does not. Local ambulance crews should be aware of the fact that naloxone is locally available and also on a national scale this needs to be addressed as when you call in a situation, at present, the best way to get a response is to not mention drugs at all and if you do mention that you are equipped and trained you are told under no circumstances to administer. Hostel managers should be a priority with regards to involvement in the program as they are involved in the care and support of some of the more vulnerable in the community. There are number of areas where hostels were approached first for training in preparation. This can also be something that can be carried out by local action groups in support.
  • Purchase the naloxone kits and make the necessary arrangements for stocking and distributing them, and for re-supply when naloxone has been used or expired:  The arrangements for re-supply should be straight forward, all services in possession of naloxone should encourage those who lose, use or have a kit that expires to come in to get a kit  replaced. The ideal place for distribution would be Needle exchanges, pharmacies and prison healthcare. Any other places that you may consider should be suggested at any meetings with local authorities.
  • Provide training for all drug keyworkers, all opioid substitution therapy (OST) prescriber’s locally, dispensing pharmacists, local service user groups, all of whom can contribute to the onward dissemination of information:   This target has already been partially reached in a number of places and training has or is being done already. This is where local service user groups come into their own and provide an invaluable part of the localised agenda. If you have been on point with the call to arms then you will already have been trained locally and can then put yourself or your group forward to disseminate the training and relevant information around naloxone, basic life support and administration, individual certificated training can be done online at SMMGP – Substance Misuse Management in General Practice website. There are also local reps strategically placed nationally to deliver training, if you contact me at drugactivist@gmail.com then I can direct you towards your local train the trainer.
  • Arrange for training to be provided to people who use drugs, patients and clients, and their families and friends, Consider who is best placed to deliver this training. Offer this training to as many people as possible:  It stands to reason that those who are in the best position to cascade the training out to their communities are those out there on the frontline, this again would fall into the responsibilities of the local service users groups. If your group is not trained then then I wold suggest that you look into arranging training and put this in place. It may hold up the process or put the partnership options that are presenting into the hands of someone else. Once trained you are then in a position to offer yourselves as local trainers and pass this onto everyone you meet who has an interest. And id you are anything like me, even even those that don’t.
  • Consider whether and how you will record the numbers of kits dispensed, and report the number of times naloxone was used: Part of the initial training and something that is also advocated for in an overdose situation is that an ambulance is always called. This is to reduce risk of the individual slipping back into an overdose as the naloxone wears off after 20-40 minutes. The research around this does state that the effects of street heroin is not much more but the risk is still relevant as due to prohibitive laws surrounding illicit heroin there is no quality control, etc.   There are however times when they may not be called,  a formula may need to be discussed as to how to monitor this, The number of kits dispensed should be easily monitored and most uses, hopefully, recorded by ambulance call outs, etc. This message is something that you can carry out into your communities. We have fought long and hard to get this far, in order for it to stay as part of service provision then we need to ensure that we are responsible, sensible and accountable for our part in the program which includes carrying the message that supports those who support us in maintaining the program at a local level.


We could instantly reduce the number of overdose deaths if this medicine were more widely available

Please circulate where approriate, help us to save lives.

Naloxone Action Group - England

What do we do with a medicine that prevents certain death for people with a particular condition—and is safe, cheap, and easy to administer?

  1. Immediately make it accessible to those who can administer it when such a life-or-death situation arises.
  2. Make it available to no one except doctors and emergency room workers.
  3. Endlessly debate the particulars of how and when it should be widely introduced.

If you picked number one, that would seem to be a reasonable choice. Unfortunately, it would also be incorrect. With few exceptions, answers two or three apply in the vast majority of the world when it comes to the medicine naloxone.

Overdose remains a leading cause of death among people who use drugs, particularly those who inject. Increasing the availability and accessibility of naloxone would reduce these deaths overnight.

View original post 443 more words


(To whom it may concern),

I am contacting you in relation to a current national campaign to reduce drug related deaths in England. In light of the recent 32% rise in drug related deaths bringing the statistical data of those dying from overdose involving opioid substances in 2013 to a staggering 765 deaths, each one preventable.

Please find attached below a brief timeline of Naloxone from it’s inception up until present .


As you will see there are a number of periods where there has been open endorsement from a number of sources here in the UK. These endorsements have been made by:

Professor John Strang in the British Medical Journal (1996).
ACMD (Advisory Council for the Misuse of Drugs) (2000) (2012)
UK Clinical Guidelines (2007)
NTA (National Treatment Agency) (2007) (2009)
MRC (Medical Research Council) (2008)

The department of health chairperson Jane Ellison sent a letter, in July of last year, to the ACMD giving clear direction as to a date for commencement of National Naloxone program from October 2015….


This letter lays out a clear and direct plan of action which advocates for training and any other preparations to be supported ‘prior’ to the date given for roll out and was a direct result of the MHRA survey which returned an overwhelming show of support for the provision of Naloxone in the community.

I feel that a delay until October 2015 is irrational given the evidence of support given and believe that this delay warrants a judicial review based on the evidence collated globally and also from the National programs in both Scotland and Wales where take home programs have had a positive effect on th statistics surrounding drug related deaths. I also feel that this delay is a serious breach of human rights in that every human being has the right to access life saving medication and the right to live. This delay has the potential to interfere with the right to life and also the right to a family life.

Given the case that I hereby put forward for direct and immediate action towards implementation of Take Home Naloxone programs nationally. I would be grateful if you could reply to my concerns by:

A: Informing of what is currently happening locally to put this program in place
B: Informing me of the reasons for delay in implementing a local program.

I look forward to further correspondence with you regarding this issue.

Yours sincerely,