Scotland has the most severe Drug-Related Deaths (DRD) problem in Europe, almost four times the number of DRD in the EU. There were 1330 deaths in 2021 connected to people in vulnerable communities who use unregulated street drugs. Innovative solutions are required to deal with this vital issue. Following on from initiatives implemented by the Scottish Government which included social, individual, and community-based recommendations from the Scottish Drug Deaths Taskforce, a remote-based one-to-one smartphone app that connects users to support services is suggested to reduce DRD.
Here4U Scotland is a remote mobile application which is uniquely placed to help those who use drugs alone to provide them with support from private, anonymous non-judgmental people who are experienced in preventing DRD. Here4U Scotland connects people who are consuming drugs alone to volunteer supporters who remain present and on the line with them at the period when there is potential for overdose.
Here4U Scotland app works by allowing community members to call when using drugs to speak to a peer support volunteer, but their privacy remains secured due to the anonymity criteria within the app. Volunteers will ensure members are responsive and safe throughout the call while also engaging in conversation and providing a supportive ear, harm reduction advice and ensuring that the community member receives the appropriate care. The rescue plan allocated by users, where they detail their location plus how, when and who should be contacted, will only be accessed if the member experiences difficulty or is unresponsive to the initial emergency act.
Here4U Scotland app also includes enhanced psychological well-being as members feel valued and part of a community that is not further marginalised. Here4U Scotland app is intended to provide multiple benefits for communities, individuals, and health services to mitigate against unsafe, unclean, dangerous, or toxic uses of drugs.
After a successful experience in Canada and US, Here4U Scotland (it is called the Brave App in Canada and the US) is coming to Aberdeen City as a pilot, to be localised, expanded and provide a unique harm reduction solution to a community who are suffering fatalities at the hands of unregulated street drugs.
Here4U Scotland is under the umbrella of the Digital Lifelines Scotland programme. This project is in partnership with the University of Stirling (project lead and evaluator), the Digital Health & Care Innovation Centre (DHI), Alcohol & Drug Action (ADA – Aberdeen City) and Brave Technology Co-Op. It is funded by the Scottish Government Digital Health and Care Directorate.
Currently, ADA Aberdeen city is hiring Volunteer Supporters who would be able to support the users, before, during and after the person calling, providing advice on safer practices and reducing harm. In the event of an overdose occurring, volunteers will need to fulfil the agreed rescue plan by calling emergency services or reaching out to someone the app’s user has identiﬁed as being close by who can help.
 Nrscotland.gov.uk. 2022. [online] Available at: <https://www.nrscotland.gov.uk/files/statistics/drug-related-deaths/21/drug-related-deaths-21-report.pdf> [Accessed 25 August 2022]
 Taskforce, D., 2022. About the Taskforce | Drug Deaths Taskforce. [online] Drug Deaths Taskforce. Available at: <https://drugdeathstaskforce.scot/about-the-taskforce/> [Accessed 25 August 2022].
 Financialpost.com. 2022. Brave Partners with RapidSOS to Address Overdose Crisis and Accelerate 9-1-1 Response Times in the United States | Financial Post. [online] Available at: <https://financialpost.com/pmn/press-releases-pmn/business-wire-news-releases-pmn/brave-partners-with-rapidsos-to-address-overdose-crisis-and-accelerate-9-1-1-response-times-in-the-united-states> [Accessed 25 August 2022].