Pieces of paper designed for snorting cocaine are being handed out to drug users across Kent, to stop them using rolled-up bank notes and spreading disease.
The Maidstone-based Kent Drug and Alcohol Action Team, (KDAAT), responsible for the county’s drug treatment services, commissioned drugs charity KCA to make the notes.
The message on them reads: “Evidence suggests that the sharing of cocaine straws is a factor in the transmission of Hepatitis C. Reduce your chances of catching Hep C by using one of these single use notes instead of a bank note.”
They have been given out at KCA adult substance misuse centres across Kent, for around six months, including at Marsham Street, Maidstone.
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KDAAT, based at Invicta House, County Road, Maidstone, commissions KCA to deliver various services which are funded by government grants and KDAAT’s partners, who are Kent County Council, Kent Police, Kent Probation, the Home Office, Department of Health the prison service, National Treatment Agency and the Government Office for the South East.
Lesley Andrews, head of KDAAT, said the team was following guidelines on Hepatitis C from the National Treatment Agency for substance misuse.
She said: “We do not encourage drug taking, but there is a need to reduce the harm caused by substance abuse.
“These notes help protect individuals from certain blood-borne viruses and help to discourage the transition to more dangerous drug-taking practices. They are a public health measure to prevent the spread of Hepatitis C into the wider community.”
Tony Williams, who works at the Yalding-based alcohol and drug rehabilitation charity, The Kenward Trust, said: “This will be a small part of KCA’s work. There is no one answer to solving the problem of drug abuse.
“If these notes save just one person from drugs, then that is absolutely brilliant.”
~Listen: Tony Williams of the Kenward Trust
tells why handing out cocaine straws does not encourage drug use>>>
A study reported by the BBC in 1999, found 99 per cent of a sample of 500 notes had traces of cocaine on them.
Hepatitis C is a blood-borne virus which attacks the liver and can lead to liver fibrosis, cirrhosis and cancer. Estimates suggest 250,000 people in the UK have the condition.