Interior Health’s (IH) Take Home Naloxone program has expanded to include 70 new sites, including the Ashcroft Health Centre and St. Bartholomew’s Health Centre in Lytton.
The program was already available at the Ashcroft Hospital emergency department, where it is used for patients who are being treated for an opioid overdose. It will now be available at the Ashcroft and Lytton health centres to anyone who is at risk from an overdose from opioid drugs, which include such illicit drugs as fentanyl, heroin, oxycodone, and morphine.
Naloxone is a life-saving medication that can reverse an opioid overdose by restoring breathing within two to five minutes, and improves the chances of survival while waiting for medical help. 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,” says medical health officer Dr. Silvina Mema. The training also offers overdose prevention tips and life-saving steps, such as how to administer naloxone.
Approximately 1,670 naloxone kits have been distributed across IH, and they are credited with reversing an overdose in at least 180 cases. The free kits available under the Take Home Naloxone program are specifically for those at risk of an opioid overdose, either because they currently use opioids or have a history of using them. Friends, family members, and others who wish to carry naloxone are encouraged to purchase a kit from local pharmacies (a prescription for naloxone is no longer required).
“Drug-related overdoses and deaths are a huge concern,” says Health Minister Terry Lake. “Interior Health’s expansion of the Take Home Naloxone program could potentially save the life of someone’s friend, parent, or child.”