Kits to help bring people back from the brink of an opioid drug overdose are now available no charge in northwestern B.C.
But those picking up a kit at select pharmacies or at community health centres should expect to first receive training on how to use syringes and naloxone, the drug that reverses an overdose, indicates information from the B.C. Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC), the provincial agency which began to distribute the kits late last year.
“When asking for a kit in a pharmacy, pharmacists will either provide training directly or have a conversation to ensure people have been trained and know how to use take-home naloxone kits,” said Sara Young, BCCDC’s hepatitis and harm reduction programs manager.
“If someone has completed online training through the naloxonetraining.com website, they can print a certificate of completion, or download it on their mobile device and show this to their pharmacist.”
“The take home naloxone program is low-barrier and designed to get kits into the hands of people who need them.”
An overdose of opioids like heroin, methadone, fentanyl and morphine can slow a person’s breathing or even stop a person from breathing altogether, something that can be temporarily reversed by naloxone.
When administered along with rescue breaths, naloxone can restore breathing within a few minutes, indicates information published by the BCCDC.
The take home kits include three doses of injectable naloxone, along with three single-use syringes and related supplies.
The kits are now availabe at Save-On-Foods pharmacies in Kitimat, Terrace and Prince Rupert.
They are also available at community health centres in Kitimat, Terrace, Prince Rupert and Lax Kw’alaams.
Naloxone is commonly carried by provincial paramedics and police officers in response to the large increase of opioid overdoses being experienced in B.C. and elsewhere in Canada.
The number of overdoses and deaths began to grow with the introduction of fentanyl in illegal drug sales.
“Our most urgent priority is to keep people alive, so we’re dramatically expanding easy access to naloxone,” mental health and addictions minister Judy Darcy said in late December.
“Bringing a friend or a loved one back from the brink of death can hinge on people knowing how to use a naloxone kit and having access to one. Making them available at local pharmacies makes them more accessible than ever.”
Those interested in the online option can go to the Toward The Heart website maintained by the BCCDC at http://towardtheheart.com/naloxone-course.
Training is also available at http://www.naloxonetraining.com/.
Take-home naloxone kits have been used to reverse over 11,000 overdoses, reports the centre.