DRUG addicts are being offered a lifesaving overdose antidote as they are released from custody by West Midlands Police in a bid to save costs.
Naloxone, a medicine which can reverse the effects of an overdose, will be handed to those with a class A drug addictions.
The scheme has been funded by the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner Simon Foster in a bid to save lives and money.
The PCC states drug use and the harmful damage it causes costs taxpayers in the West Midlands force area £1.4billion a year.
The medicine will be delivered by Cranstoun as part of their Arrest Referral Service, who work with offenders with drug and alcohol misuse issues to help them break their habit and to steer them away from crime.
The medicine will be handed out by qualified substance misuse workers.
Naloxone is an emergency antidote for overdoses caused by heroin and other opiates.
The main life-threating effects of these drugs are that the user’s breathing can slow down and stop.
Naloxone blocks this effect and reverses breathing difficulties temporarily to buy time for an ambulance to arrive.
Detainees will receive advice on how to administer it by the arrest referral workers before they are released from custody.
Mr Foster, said: “Rolling out Naloxone is a major part of our approach to drugs. It saves lives and will save the public sector a lot of money in the long term.
“This new initiative will see those with addiction problems offered support and advice to help them quit their habit by specialist drug workers.
“But obviously this is not always going to happen overnight.
“Through providing naloxone we can help to reduce crime, and save lives.”
Arron Owen, national criminal justice lead for Cranstoun said: “The work that has gone into this demonstrates the commitment of all parties to work in partnership to reduce drug related deaths and improve health outcomes.
“We know that many of the individuals in police custody will not be accessing treatment services and will be at high risk of an overdose or contracting a blood borne virus.
“We hope that this initiative will reduce harm to those individuals and the wider communities.”