DISTRIBUTION of life-saving overdose revival kits increased by 40% last year, new figures show.

The change is revealed in a report published by Public Health Scotland and amidst continued concern about the level of drug deaths.

National Records of Scotland data shows 1187 people lost their lives to drugs in 2018 in a near-30% year-on-year increase.

The figures for 2019 have not yet been released but Police Scotland Superintendent Tim Ross said it appears there has been a “slight increase” on the previous year’s death toll.

A law change has allowed users of heroin and other opioid drugs like morphine to carry life-saving Naxolone kits to combat drug deaths since 2011.

They are also available to drug users’ friends and family and service workers in a bid to protect some of the most vulnerable citizens.

While 12,135 of these kits were issued in 2018-19 – compared with only 8555 the year before – it is thought that “at least half” of drug users still don’t have them.

The charity We Are With You, which works on drugs, alcohol and mental health, has welcomed the increase, but warns more must be done to equip all those at risk.

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Charity head Andrew Horne said: “The increase is hugely encouraging and is testament to the hard work of health services across Scotland. Take-home Naloxone kits can mean the difference between life and death to many people who use opioids and those close to them.

“Naloxone kits are like defibrillators or epipens – they’re pocket-sized and can be easily administered through an injection or nasal spray, preserving life in the crucial time until an ambulance arrives.

“A law change in 2015 means these kits can be handed out and carried without prescription.

“With Scotland’s drug deaths at a record high, making sure Naloxone is in the hands of those who need it is more important than ever.

“There can be many reasons for overdose, such as stronger batches of heroin, ageing users with health issues, or former prisoners on release whose tolerance has dropped.

“Whatever the reason, anyone can save a life with Naloxone. It is low-cost, easy to use, has zero potential for misuse and it can save lives.

“But, despite the increase, the reach of take-home Naloxone is still under half of people at risk.

“The more people who have it in Scotland’s communities, the better.”