A group of businesses, many involved in brewing and serving alcohol, is working to make overdose reversal drugs more accessible.
Since the start of the year, about 70 businesses have joined. Each business agrees to make naloxone or narcan kits accessible on site, and receives — Naloxone On Site — stickers to put in their windows.
Red Shed Malting, in Penhold, just recently joined the group. Co-owner Matt Hamill said being located on a farm, his business wouldn’t provide easy access to naloxone, so he contacted Penhold Mayor Michael Yargeau to figure out how to make it available in the town.
“I think our biggest role is just being a voice and showing some support. We don’t have a giant platform. But we’re happy to use what we have for causes like this,” Matt said.
He said it’s interesting that the origin of Each+Every initiative is the alcohol industry, but he has found there to be a lot of collaboration in this industry in the province, which has grown since Red Shed began producing malt in late 2015.
“There were about 19 people producing beer in the province when we started and now there’s over 100. We’ve seen breweries go from really tiny places to being big players in the provincial market.”
Co-owner Daelyn Hamill said as a malt producer, Red Shed can play a role in reducing the stigma of addiction at the mid-point of the industry, between brewing and serving.
“Harm reduction is about involving the people and making it about the people, and figuring out how to help to reduce the harm,” Daelyn said.
Other Each+Every members in central Alberta include Blindman Brewing in Lacombe, and Hogarth Malt near Olds.
Christina Owczarek, one of the founding members of Each+Every, said the group is probably the first of its kind and the goal of the group is to reach out to all types of businesses.
“There’s still a lot of people who are hesitant to join. A lot of people try to stay out of the social and political commentary realm,” said Owczarek, who is the owner and operator of XhAle Brew Co., in Calgary.
But she said it’s their job as businesses in the alcohol industry to speak up about harm reduction.
Owczarek lost two friends, only three months apart, to accidental drug poisonings in 2019 so she knows that drugs impact all sectors of society.
“The people I lost weren’t down and out. They weren’t homeless. Both men, in their late 30s, in their homes.”
She said more education is needed about naloxone because a lot of people still don’t know what it is.
For more information visit eachandevery.org.