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Why everyone should own a naloxone kit

By Dianne Miranda, February 13 2023

The key question surrounding naloxone kits is that, “should you carry naloxone?” The training and the distribution of naloxone has been essential to addressing Canada’s opioid crisis and responding to minimizing fatal overdoses. However, the underutilization of naloxone and the hesitancy of people to carry and use naloxone is often attributed to the lack of education regarding the effects of the drug and the stigma over its possession. 

So, what is naloxone?

Naloxone is a drug that can temporarily reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. Naloxone works by disabling an opioid’s harmful effects such as restoring breathing within two to five minutes. It is safe for everyone and is harmless as it cannot be improperly used and does not create dependence. It is available as a nasal spray that can be sprayed directly into the nose where it is absorbed or as an injectable drug into a muscle, typically the upper arm or thigh. Naloxone kits are available at local pharmacies and walk-in clinics, and at the Student Wellness Centre free of charge. 

The systemic importance of carrying a kit

A simple act of carrying naloxone with you can save the life of a friend, loved one or even a complete stranger; the concept is similar to carrying an EpiPen for allergies. This is especially important for many community members with stigmatizing circumstances such as those with substance use disorder, lack of access to care and the unhoused. Naloxone kits are becoming increasingly available to the general public, and along with this, education on proper use and an increase in advocation for harm reduction. Naloxone kit training is also usually deployed with many community-based programs and thus kit training has been essential in improving knowledge surrounding overdose recognition and prevention. Carrying a naloxone kit not only provides a person with the tools and the skills to be able to respond to an opioid overdose, but the cultural change to act. 

How to join members of the campus community in being trained on how to use a kit

Naloxone training is offered at the Student Wellness Centre regularly on Wednesdays from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. and repeats weekly until April 20, 2023. The training is administered by registered nurse Jennifer Myers and takes only about 15–20 minutes where a take-home naloxone kit will be provided. The process to book training is simple. It can be booked by calling 403-220-9355. 

There are also campus programs such as the Upstanders program that promote and spark a type of change through the creation of a widespread culture of harm reduction off and on campus. The program explores safer substance use and mental health awareness among a variety of other areas where harm reduction skills can be developed.

The Liam Project is a harm reduction coalition led by university students that promotes responsibility, accessibility, education, and change within and around issues of harm reduction. Among other initiatives, they have distributed naloxone kits around campus and community events where drug safety is especially important.

This article is a part of our Voices section and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Gauntlet editorial board.

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