A screenshot from the Nal-Pal app shows what it would look like if a person in distress called for help. (File contributed/Derek Jacoby)

A screenshot from the Nal-Pal app shows what it would look like if a person in distress called for help. (File contributed/Derek Jacoby)

B.C. university to launch app to link drug users with Naloxone kits

Researchers have spent the last year developing the Nal-Pal app

An app designed to connect drug users with naloxone kits is set to launch in January.

The Nal-Pal App, designed by University of Victoria students under the guidance of researcher Derek Jacoby, received a $15,000 grant from the South Island Prosperity Project in March 2018, and since then the developers have been researching and designing.

Part of the research included speaking with intravenous drug users in partnership with AIDS Vancouver Island about what they thought.

“It was a good confirmation that this would address part of the problem, but we learned quite a lot,” Jacoby said.

ALSO READ: Victoria woman shares her painful experience with opioid addiction

From the interviews, the team realized that the largest target audience probably wasn’t drug users living on the streets, since they’re usually surrounded with other users with naloxone kits or near downtown resources.

Instead, the target audience would be users who make up the majority of deaths from opioid overdoses — suburban people using drugs on their own.

“This could allow the app to work in a preventative way,” Jacoby said. “For example, if someone was about to use they could send out a message asking for someone to check in on them in a few minutes.”

A screenshot from the Nal-Pal app shows what it would look like if a person in distress called for help. (File contributed/Derek Jacoby)

ALSO READ: Youngest opioid overdose victim in B.C. last year was 10 years old

Another thing the research revealed was that most people don’t want a help message sent out to a wide audience, as the app had originally been designed to do.

“Often somebody is going to be evicted if emergency services shows up at their door,” Jacoby said. “People suggested if messages could be sent to a specific list of people, like their neighbour, instead.”

ALSO READ: Reducing harm with ‘I carry naloxone’ buttons

The app is set to have both a customized option to send a help message to certain people, or a wider distress call that will alert anyone else with the app that a naloxone kit is needed.

A screenshot from the Nal-Pal app shows what it would look like if a person in distress called for help. (File contributed/Derek Jacoby)

Jacoby also noted that while most people with a drug dependency have cell phones, most don’t have access to data plans, so the app has been developed to rely on text messages that can link to maps. If the person has a data plan, it will also send to the web server.

An Android version of the app will launch in January and be tested out by a group at AIDS Vancouver Island; test scenarios and drills will also be run to test for potential issues, such as multiple calls at once. An iOS version of the app is likely to be launched in June.

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com


Send a Tweet: @NicoleCrescenzi

Like us on Facebook  

opioid crisisUVic

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Terrace & District Chamber of Commerce hosted a virtual all candidates forum for the Coast Mountains School District trustee by-election on Feb. 23, 2021. (Screenshot/Terrace & District Chamber of Commerce Facebook)
Terrace trustee candidates lay out top priorites during virual all candidates forum

All candidates forum was held virtually on Feb. 23, 2021

(Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Murder charge laid in February 2020 stabbing death of Smithers man

Michael Egenolf is charged with the second-degree murder of Brodie Cumiskey

(Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Murder charge laid in February 2020 stabbing death of Smithers man

Michael Egenolf is charged with the second-degree murder of Brodie Cumiskey

Island Health chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stanwick receives a first dose of Pfizer vaccine, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
COVID-19: B.C. seniors aged 90+ can start to sign up for vaccination on March 8

Long-term care residents protected by shots already given

The Majagaleehl Gali Aks Elementary School in Hazelton is being shut down for a week by the Gitanmaax Band Council following a confirmation of a COVID-19 exposure there on Feb. 26. (Black Press Media File Photo)
COVID-19 exposure notice shuts down Hazelton school

Closure to last for one week and school is to be sanitized

Older rental apartments are prime candidates for renovations, and could result in lost affordable housing stock. (Zoë Ducklow photo)
B.C.’s renoviction overhaul a good start, but won’t preserve affordable stock, lawyer says

And still no protection for people who can’t pay rent due to COVID-19

(Photo by Marissa Baecker/Shoot the Breeze)
B.C. WHL teams to hit the ice with Kelowna, Kamloops hub cities

Kelowna, Kamloops centres chosen to host B.C. WHL teams for 24-game regular season

The machines are akin to ATMs and allow drug users at risk of overdose to get hydromorphone pills dispensed to them after their palm has been scanned to identify its unique vein pattern. (CANADIAN PRESS)
Feds dole out $3.5M for ‘vending machines’ to dispense safer opioids in B.C.

The machines are located in four cities across Canada, including Vancouver and Victoria

Kelowna’s lakefront visitor centre is one of 130 around the province. Tourism businesses have been hardest hit by COVID-19 restrictions on travel. (Destination B.C.)
Tourism, small business getting COVID-19 help, B.C. minister says

$300M grant program has delivered $50 million so far

The incident happened in downtown Castlegar. Photo: Betsy Kline
Castlegar teen recounts stabbing after stranger breaks into grandmother’s house

The unnamed teen survived a terrifying attack Feb. 21

(Black Press file photo)
Agassiz boy, 11, dies from ‘extensive injuries’: Homicide team

Agassiz RCMP were called out Friday to assist with a child in medical distress

Dr. Amit Desai of St. Francis Hospital receives a COVID-19 vaccine on Dec. 17. (Photo courtesy of CHI Franciscan)
B.C. has now vaccinated more people from COVID-19 than total confirmed cases

B.C. has reached a milestone, vaccinating roughly 1.6% of its population from the coronavirus

Most Read