The BC Centre for Disease Control is urging people who use drugs to get trained on how to use a naloxone kit after new research has found that many drug users in B.C. don’t carry the overdose antidote.
The warning stems from results of a 2018 survey recently published in a medical journal which found that while almost two-thirds of the 486 survey respondents carry naloxone and know how to use it, those who smoke or snort drugs were half as likely to carry the overdose-reversing medication.
The take home naloxone kit program has existed in B.C. since 2012, but was made freely available in late 2017 following a staggering number of overdose deaths. Now, the kits can be found at nearly all pharmacies in B.C.
Naloxone kits reversed an estimated 36,000 overdoses in 2018, according to an update by the ministry of addictions and mental health in February.
But the unpredictability of the street drug supply continues to put people at risk regardless of how they administer drugs, the centre said in a news release Wednesday, with five people dying every two days in the province.
“Even tiny amounts of fentanyl can lead to a life-threatening overdose for a person who does not use opioids regularly,” said Dr. Jane Buxton, harm reduction lead for the centre.
“The street drug supply is highly toxic. Thankfully naloxone is widely available for people who use drugs and those who are likely to witness an overdose.”
As temperatures cool, the risk of drug users overdosing while using along increases, experts say. The BCCDC is also advising anyone who is around people who use drugs and who may witness an overdose to get trained on how to use naloxone.
To find training locally, click here.