Authority expands overdose response

The Take Home Naloxone program has expanded to emergency departments and health centres across the region.

As part of the Interior Health Authority’s overdose emergency response, the Take Home Naloxone program has expanded to emergency departments and health centres across the region.

In emergency departments, the program is offered to patients who are being treated for an opioid overdose. At public health centres, mental health and substance use offices, and community agencies, the program is available to anyone at risk of overdose from opioid drugs. Opioid drugs include both prescription and illicit drugs such as oxycodone, morphine, heroin, fentanyl and others.

“This expansion increases access to the life-saving medication, naloxone,” said Dr. Silvina Mema, medical health officer.

“Naloxone can reverse an opioid overdose by restoring breathing within two to five minutes. It improves the chances of survival while waiting for medical help to arrive. Naloxone is a safe medication that cannot be abused and has no effect on the body in the absence of opioids. It is non-addictive, does not produce a high and has no street value.”

In addition to making naloxone kits more accessible, the Take Home Naloxone program also provides training on how to prevent, recognize and respond to an overdose situation.

“The program not only gives those at risk free naloxone kits, it also provides an opportunity to offer information on how to prevent an overdose from occurring in the first place by educating clients about factors that can increase the risk of overdose,” said Mema.

“For example, one of the things we tell people is that if they haven’t used a drug for a while their tolerance or response to that drug can change and that puts them at greater risk of an overdose.”