At at city council meeting on Tuesday night, Kingston city councillors agreed to begin distributing Naloxone throughout the community, in an effort to curb the growing opioid crisis.
Naloxone is known as a life-saving medication that can temporarily reverse an overdose caused by opioid drugs.
According to KFL&A Public Health, 140 lives have been saved in the last year because of Naloxone.
“Within minutes of it being injected or sprayed into someone’s nose, it can reverse the negative effects caused by opiates,” Dr. Kieran Moore, the Chief Medical Officer at KFL&A Public Health said.
Councillors have agreed to distribute the Naloxone kits at all city owned and operated facilities. The kits will be located where automated external defibrillators currently exist. The plan is to put two naloxone kits per AED station.
But before the vote to approve the motion was made, it was met with criticism by the large crowd of community members who piled into council chambers.
Many Kingstonians were frustrated that the issue was deferred at the last council meeting, so that councillors could get more input from public health.
“Choose wisely. Take your stigmatized glasses off,” said Susan Deuchars, who lost her son to a heroin overdose in 2016.
She said it was unfair and believes councillors wouldn’t think twice about doing the same for epi-pens or AEDs.
“I think there was a whole lot of back peddling. There was no misunderstanding. They can tell me what they want. It was all stigma. There was a lot of lack of education,” Deuchars said.
The issue of stigma for those who overdose on drugs was also raised by another delegation, who takes opioids to cope with her fibromyalgia.
“I know when we talk about the subject of overdosing you likely have an image in your mind of the type of drug addict you see on TV or in movies,” Aimee Van Vlack, an opioid user said.
“What you don’t see on TV is the mother who has chronic pain and takes her pain medication so that she’s able to take care of her children.”
Councillors defended the initial delay on the decision.
“If it was interpreted in such a way that we didn’t feel it was important then I do apologize. It may been misconstrued. We just wanted to make sure we are doing things appropriately and asking professionals and getting expert advice,” councillor Adam Candon said.
Kingston mayor Bryan Paterson was also quick to clear the air.
“There is no concern about stigma around this table. We agree that this is an important public health issue,” Paterson said.
The chief medical officer at KFL&A said Kingston is the first city in North America to place Naloxone next to AED kits in public places.
The mayor hopes the new plan for Naloxone — which also includes training the public on how to use it — will make the city a municipal leader and will encourage other communities to follow suit.