New foil legislation in place

News item posted: 19 June 2017

From today all drug services will be permitted to distribute aluminium foil to prevent drug related harm to existing users.

Foil will be supplied as a practical resource to encourage injectors to smoke instead of injecting, reducing the risks such as the spread of Blood Borne Virus' (BBVs) and higher risk of overdose, linked with injecting. It will also provide an entry point to services for individuals who would not usually engage with drug support.

Previously drug services have been unable to distribute foil because of concerns about Section 9a of the Misuse of Drugs Act which prohibited the supply of any material which could be used to administer an illegal drug. Now services will be able to order and dispense foil designed to reduce injecting and overdose risk, completely within the law.

Drug and Alcohol Findings, a partnership project between Alcohol Concern, DrugScope, the National Addiction Centre, Alcohol Research UK, and the online editor, Mike Ashton, recently published an article about this change. The article highlighted the evidence which led the UK government to accept the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) call for the legalisation of the supply of foil to drug users to promote transition from injecting to smoking heroin and cocaine. Research from a former Turning Point drug worker, Rachael Pizzey, was included in this article as a key evidence factor in this legislative change.

In 2008, Rachael Pizzey, then a drug worker at Turning Point's substance misuse service in Somerset, published research in the Harm Reduction Journal (2008, 5:24) looking at how British needle exchanges which piloted distribution of foil packs for smoking heroin found that they were widely used and may have increased attendance at drug services and reduced the number of injections. Rachael additionally presented this evidence to the Home office and at conferences in London, Glasgow, Cardiff and Barcelona.

Selena Douglas, Managing Director for substance misuse services and offending at Turning Point said;

"Addressing and reducing injecting behaviour is hugely important and I am delighted that Rachael's contribution to this change in legislation has been highlighted."

"Research and advice from those working on the ground across the substance misuse sector is essential if we are to keep policy up to date with the changing needs of the treatment population. When used alongside other interventions, foil will allow our services to offer additional support to those with drug dependency, ultimately moving individuals towards sustained recovery."