For prisoners with a history of drug use, in particular opioid use, the risks related to drug use, in particular overdose and death are extremely high in the immediate period after release from prison, due to high rates of relapse and lower opioid tolerance. Much still needs to be done in order to ensure that people with a history of drug use are sufficiently cared for, when released from prisons.

The newly released "Guidelines for naloxone provision upon release from prison and other custodial settings" are produced within the project “My first 48 hours out – comprehensive approaches to pre and post prison release interventions for drug users in the criminal justice system” with co-funding from the European Commission in the framework of a project led by the Frankfurt University of Applied Sciences/Germany and Professor Heino Stöver. The guidelines aim at providing hands-on recommendations for policy makers and practitioners from prison health services on how to promote, initiate and manage interventions related to overdose prevention through naloxone programs and how to organise related training and capacity building.

Kirsten Horsburgh from the Scottish Drugs Forum, author of the guidelines, analysed information and literature available from a number of European countries as well as relying on the Scottish national naloxone programme experience, with particular reference to interventions focusing on people leaving prison.

The final version of the guidelines was presented and discussed at an expert meeting, which took place in Glasgow, Scotland on the 17th July 2018, involving researchers, harm reduction practitioners, experts and representatives of people who use drugs from a number of European countries.

Project partners are still implementing research looking at prisoners and professionals experience on risk behaviour and continuity of care. The naloxone guidelines are also being used and further developed into a comics booklet, providing drug users, harm reduction professionals and peers with educational material on the correct use of naloxone for addressing overdoses upon release from prison. Find out more at

The guidelines are available at the HIV/AIDS Clearinghouse, please follow this link.