Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada locations across the country are getting a free supply of an opioid overdose-reversing drug.
The youth organization is announcing a three-year partnership with Adapt Pharma Canada, which makes Narcan, or naloxone hydrochloride.
The nasal spray will be available at 700 Boys and Girls Clubs locations across the country.
That includes after-school programs, youth hubs, emergency shelters, group homes and high schools.
Jeff Dyer, CEO of the group’s Calgary chapter, says staff are already trained to inject naloxone and the nasal spray will be much easier to administer.
Dyer says three youths involved with the clubs in Calgary died in the past year after taking drugs laced with fentanyl, a powerful opioid. Naloxone would have saved their lives, he added.
“No doubt, in the future, it can save many more,” Dyer said.
“We don’t have a handle on the opioid crisis in our country, so this is one way to tackle it in the interim.”
The Canadian Institute for Health Information says that youth aged 15 to 24 saw a 53 per cent increase in opioid poisonings between 2013 and 2017 — one of the fastest growing cohorts.
Dyer said many of the young people his organization serves are particularly vulnerable because they are often dealing with homelessness and trauma.
The spray will be kept locked up and under the supervision of Boys and Girls Club staff. But in some cases, where youth are homeless or living on their own, Dyer said they can be given the drug to take with them in case they or someone they know overdoses.
Adapt Pharma’s general manager said the partnership is significant.
“It means we’re able to reach even more young people in our communities and ensure that the resources and information they need are readily available to them,” said David Renwick in a release.
“The goal is to get as much naloxone in the community as possible.”