There’s a new and much-needed help available on some Nova Scotia streets to help fight accidental opiate overdoses.
Training took place Tuesday at Direction 180, a drug treatment centre in Halifax, for take-home naloxone anti-opiate drug kits.
Once injected, naloxone temporarily blocks the effects opiates have on the body.
“It’s important because an individual that’s experiencing an overdose of opiates could succumb to that, could die from it,” said Dr. David Saunders.
“Injecting naloxone in that situation can put off death or harm from an overdose of opiates long enough for an individual to get to hospital or get EMS services to get to them.”
Those being trained to administer the drug aren’t doctors or nurses, but people who live within the community and all have a history of opiate use.
“So far this year, since the New Year, I’ve seen two overdoses,” said Joe Clair, who just completed the training. “One was fatal, the other was almost fatal.”
Once they’re trained, people will carry an anti-opiate kit with them at all times, in case they come across someone who has overdosed.
“I mean, if someone like myself can have this and can make a difference in someone’s life, anyone’s life, then I think it’s worthwhile to have,” said Dave, a participant who did not want to give his last name.
Officials say it’s important for community members to be involved because overdoses can occur just about anywhere.
“This kind of an event happens out in the community, in somebody’s house or in a park or somewhere where there isn’t ready access to medical care, is where this thing happens,” said Dr. Saunders.
The kits are part of a pilot project funded by the Nova Scotia Department of Health. In total, 300 kits will be handed out in Halifax, with another 300 distributed through Cape Breton.
“This investment is about letting people know, that use drugs, that their lives matter,” said Cindy MacIssac, Director of Direction 180.
“I’m sure if you ask any mom or dad or sibling or friend that lost somebody to a fatal overdose, I’m sure that they would have wished that their loved one had access to naloxone.”
MacIssac hopes that if the pilot project is a success, naloxone kits can be handed out across Atlantic Canada in the future.
© 2016 Shaw Media