HEROIN users in Glasgow are being offered free foil to heat up the drug instead of injecting it, following a botulism outbreak in the city.


Turning Point Scotland's Glasgow Drug Crisis Centre is handing out the foil in a bid to cut down the risks connected to injecting.

Users can use foil to heat up and inhale the Class A substance instead of injecting.

It is not advisable to use ordinary household foil due to the oils contained in the product.

The move is in direct response to the botulism cases detected in Glasgow and the surrounding area.

As the Evening Times revealed last week, police are probing claims that a batch of heroin contaminated with toxins that can cause the potentially fatal illness was buried by a dealer while he served a sentence for drugs offences.

Botulism has been linked to the death of at least one heroin user last month.

Last week four people remained in Glasgow hospitals.

Health Protection Scotland is now dealing with the outbreak.

John Campbell, improvement and development manager for injecting providers, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC) said: "The provision of foil has been a long time coming and it's came at the right time.

"We ran a pilot in all our community addiction teams for the past three and half months and we were then looking to roll it out to all needle exchanges across NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde.

"The botulism cases have really encouraged us to bring this into Turning Point Scotland's Glasgow Drug Crisis Centre quicker than planned.

"In the first week or so they gave out over ten packs which is fairly encouraging.

"It's a 24 hour exchange so other exchanges are able to direct clients here."

John said that using foil eliminates a number of injecting complications such as abscesses, ulcers and cellulitis.

It also reduces risk to blood borne viruses, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and HIV.

Patricia Tracey, service manager at the Glasgow Drug Crisis Centre said workers wanted to provide an alternative to injecting.

She said: "Smoking heroin doesn't come without risks, but by giving out foil we are providing a safer alternative option for the people we support.

"There are benefits to the individual, to the community if there's less injecting equipment lying about, and ultimately there are benefits to society because of the reduction in cost of treating injecting related complications."

Mr Campbell stressed that heroin users should stop using the drug altogether to completely remove the risk associated with it.

He added: "Of course the most obvious thing that people could do is to stop using heroin. If we take a pragmatic response to that, very few people are likely to do that.

"It's easy to say if people are dying they will stop but we've got nearly 500 drug related deaths every year and a large percentage of them happen in this city.

"So death isn't something that puts people off using heroin.

"If you can't stop using heroin then move away from injecting to smoking."

Information booklets are being handed out to users at the centre to make them aware of the risks of using heroin and of injecting.