How to get one, and who is at risk for an overdose
In the fall of 2017, the Nova Scotia provincial government announced a program that made Naloxone kits available for free at local pharmacies across the country. Naloxone is a drug that can be administered during an opioid overdose to reverse the effects, potentially saving a life. Those who use both prescription opioids and street drugs are encouraged to pick up a kit for use in case of an emergency. In addition, those who come into close contact with an opioid user, both prescribed or recreational, should also consider picking up a kit. Naloxone kits do not require a prescription; however, those wishing to take one must complete a brief 20 minute training session on when and how to administer the drug properly.
On average, 60 people in Nova Scotia die from an opioid overdose every year. However, with the introduction of fentanyl into the drug scene last year, the amount of overdose deaths has skyrocketed, especially in youths. Government officials are hoping that making Naloxone kits available to the public will reduce the number of opioid-related deaths. However, it is also encouraged that someone using a Naloxone kit call 911 first, in order to achieve proper application. The Good Samaritan Act protects those who call 911 in the event of an overdose from being charged with simple drug possession.
Antigonish offers seven locations to get a Naloxone kit: the pharmacies at Superstore and Walmart, Mackinnon’s Pharmasave on campus and on Main Street, Shoppers Drug Mart on Main Street, Halliburton PharmaChoice on Main Street, and Lawton’s Drugs on Church Street. Students interesting in getting a Naloxone kit can simply walk up to the pharmacy at any of these locations, express concern for themselves or loved ones regarding opioid usage, complete the 20 minute training session and walk out with a Naloxone kit. Despite having to express concern for yourself or another opioid user, no names or information is required, and anonymity, if desired, is respected.
Each kit contains two ampoules of Naloxone, two syringes, two ampoule breakers, one pocket breathing mask, two non-latex gloves, two alcohol swabs, a pill bottle, an instruction pamphlet, and a training card. If you have had to use your Naloxone to intervene on an overdose, the pharmacy will refill it for you. Though originally only 500 kits were distributed across the province, pharmacists can order more based on the needs of their community.
The public accessibility of Naloxone kits demonstrates how governments are turning away from a punitive method of dealing with drug use and towards a restorative and rehabilitative approach, which will hopefully inspire other communities and institutions, like StFX, to do the same. It is no secret that opioids and other drugs are used on campus. The next step that has been considered and discussed between students is whether or not these should be available within residences and if the Community Advisors and campus security should carry the kits.