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An online click-and-collect service for needles and drug equipment has been set up by a national treatment charity as the sector seeks to adapt to the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic.

We Are With You, which provides drug and alcohol treatment services in 80 locations in England and Scotland, has started the initiative in the Scottish Borders, Dumfries and Galloway, Argyll and Bute, Glasgow and Truro in Cornwall reports The Guardian.

People who use drugs are especially vulnerable during the Covid-19 pandemic due to underlying health conditions, limited access to public health information, and many may be homeless or have unstable households. Drug-related deaths in England and Wales had already hit a record high before coronavirus struck.

Lorraine Maden, Lead Clinical Pharmacist at We Are With You, said the click-and-collect service was under consideration prior to the pandemic as a means to reach out to people who had not previously engaged with services but added “Covid-19 has accelerated it”.

The service works via a web portal that can be accessed by people who inject drugs including heroin and steroids. They can request a wide range of equipment including foil packs, needles for different types of veins, and specially designed spoons that do not burn when users heat them up. They will then be able to collect the equipment from an arranged address where they will be met by staff, who have personal protective equipment (PPE), while adhering to social distancing measures.

“When we provide the equipment it’s about the interventions we can have, the conversation to get people into treatment and recovery longer term”, said Maden.

However, some of the drug users have underlying health conditions and require delivery to the door.

“A lot of our clients are heroin users and have COPD [chronic obstructive pulmonary disease]”, she said. “The age of users, particularly if they have smoked crack and heroin over the years, some of them are having to shield.”

Needle sharing can increase the spread of blood-borne viruses and so, by providing clean equipment, levels of a wide range of diseases, including Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and HIV, can be reduced. There is also a risk factor with Covid-19 and sharing drug equipment.

“The more that we can do to reduce those costs is a benefit to society as a whole”, Maden said. For information on any of AlphaBiolabs’ drug testing solutions, please call 0333 600 1300 or email us at info@alphabiolabs.com