Naloxone kits to counteract opioid overdose are available free of charge to drug users. (File photo by Advocate staff)

Red Deer agency reports more than 1,000 lives saved with naloxone

Turning Point distributes 5,855 naloxone kits

Over 1,000 opiate overdose reversals have been reported by Turning Point clients since the agency started handing out naloxone kits in July 2015.

“We’re proponents that every first aid kit should now include a naloxone kit or two in this day and age,” said executive director Stacey Carmichael on Wednesday.

A total of 1,011, reversals have been reported over the two-and-a-half years. Staff have also heard about three fatalities so far this month, she added.

Turning Point is one of the eight original agencies that has distributed free take-home naloxone kits made available as part of Alberta’s response to the rise in fentanyl overdoses and deaths.

Naloxone temporarily reverses the symptoms of fentanyl and other opioid poisonings and can keep people alive until paramedics arrive. It’s possible for a person to lapse into an overdose again once naloxone wears off so more naloxone may be required.

Kits contain instructions on how and when to administer the drug, two vials of naloxone, syringes, alcohol swab, latex gloves and a one-way rescue breathing mask. Turning Point provides training on mouth-to-mouth breathing and how to administer naloxone.

Carmichael said since July 2015 Turning Point has distributed 5,855 naloxone kits, including 199 so far this month.

“We hand out a lot, more than the average pharmacy for sure. We have individuals who use drugs accessing us. We have family members, employers, all sorts of folks are accessing kits here. That’s great. We want more people to come.”

She said kit distribution was down in December which is always the month when the demand for services declines.

“January hits and all hell breaks loose again. January, February are tough months for folks.”

She said staff have always reminded clients to take care of their needle debris. Now there’s more conversations around debris. Needle debris is a concern, however it’s not as bad as people are led to believe.

“Homeless people who use drugs actually read the newspaper and they know that people think they’re trash. Some are trying to do better.”

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