The Irish Prison Service (IPS) has launched an initiative aimed at combating opioid overdoses among prisoners.
It has joined forces with the HSE and the Irish Red Cross to provide education and resources on the issue to people in custody.
According to the service, 70% of individuals committed to prison have addiction issues.
“Urgent action is needed to prevent tragic outcomes, and protect those in custody during their reintegration into society,” it states.
The IPS refers to studies that have shown that the risk of death from drug overdose within the first two weeks after release from prison can be as much as 12 times higher compared with the general population.
The joint project focuses on raising awareness among prisoners, as well as their family members and friends, about the key risk factors leading to opioid overdoses.
Central to the initiative is the promotion of naloxone, a drug that can temporarily reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.
The aim is to equip individuals with the knowledge and access to naloxone upon release from prison and provide information on where to obtain it in the community.
Naloxone banners displayed at the visitors’ entrance to each prison aim to raise awareness, via a QR code, which directs visitors to demonstration videos on www.drugs.ie.
The IPS says that these videos enable friends and family members to know how to recognise and respond to a loved one’s drug-related overdose – including how to administer naloxone to temporarily reverse the effects of opioid drugs while awaiting medical care to arrive.
IPS Director General Caron McCaffrey says: “Not only are we raising awareness inside our prisons, but we are helping to raise public awareness about how they can help save a life.”