Life-saving anti-overdose drug naloxone is to be made available for use at home without a prescription

An anti-overdose drug is to be made more widely available without a prescription.

Nurses, paramedics, police officers and probation workers will all be able to supply naloxone for vulnerable people to take home.

Government plans to update legislation will allow the drug to be given to family or friends of known opioid users or an outreach worker for homelessness services.

Opioid-related deaths make up the largest proportion of drug-related deaths across the UK, with an average of 40 a week.

Professionals, including nurses, paramedics, police officers and probation workers, will be able to provide supplies of naloxone for vulnerable people to take home, the Government has announced

The move is part of a 10-year plan announced by the Government on Monday to ‘expand and improve the drug and alcohol treatment and recovery workforce’.

Measures include bringing professionals into the sector and developing better training for currently unregulated roles.


The treatment for an opioid overdose is usually naloxone, which blocks the effect of drugs like heroin, morphine and fentanyl by attaching to receptors in the body.

Drug addicts can get hold of the substance as powders or pills or put it into containers such as eyedroppers or nasal sprays. 

It can also be smoked or injected.

Health and Social Care Secretary Victoria Atkins said: ‘Opioid addiction can ruin lives and is responsible for the largest proportion of drug-related deaths across the UK.

‘We are working hard to reduce those numbers by expanding access to naloxone to save the lives of the most vulnerable.’

Naloxone, which reverses the effects of an opioid overdose by quickly reversing breathing difficulties, can be administered by anyone in an emergency but can only be legally supplied without a prescription by a drug and alcohol treatment service.

Justice Minister Edward Argar told the Commons on Monday about 400 prison staff at HMP Parc in Bridgend, South Wales, have been trained to use the anti-opioid medicine after a spate of deaths which are believed to be drug-related.

The move follows an independent review of drugs in 2020 headed by Dame Carol Black, who welcomed the change in legislation.

She said: ‘I heard first-hand what a lifesaving intervention naloxone is. 

‘Widening access to naloxone is key to reducing the number of lives lost to overdose.’

The Government’s 10-year strategy also includes more addiction psychiatry training posts and accreditation of training for peer support and drug and alcohol workers.