The Harm Reduction Outreach team from Vancouver Island Health gave a presentation on harm reduction at the Port Alice Community Centre last month.
Cheryl Viel, the Harm Reduction Nurse, spoke of the various diseases that can arise from risky behaviour, i.e. Aids, HIV, Hep C, STI’s etc.
Cathie Wilson, the Harm Reduction Outreach Worker, demonstrated how to administer naloxone.
Wilson showed the group what is contained in a naloxone kit: three vials of naloxone, three syringes with needles, alcohol wipes and a mouthpiece for giving a person CPR.
The kits contain a diagram illustrating how to check if a person is unconscious, as well as instructions to ventilate if the patient is not breathing and to call 911.
Wilson proceeded to show the group how to draw up the naloxone from the vials (vials of saline were used for the purpose of the demonstration instead of naloxone).
The group was shown where to give the injection on a person: the middle of the thigh is best. If they do not respond they can be given another vial.
Naloxone cannot harm anyone, but it may save lives.
Once participants were shown how to use the naloxone kits, they were given the opportunity to try it for themselves.
Saline was not administered to anyone, but, instead, the contents of the syringes were harmlessly discharged outside the body. Everyone was offered the opportunity to take a kit home.
Naloxone kits are for sale at local pharmacies. Free personal Take Home Naloxone kits can be obtained from the Harm Reduction Office at the main Mental Health and Substance Use office in Port Hardy (7070 Shorncliffe Rd.). The office provides on-site Naloxone training for anyone who is interested in learning and especially if it is the first time obtaining a THN kit.
If a kit is used, there is a form to complete and turn in in order to receive new vials and syringes.
If your kit expires, it can be brought to a pharmacy so the vials can be replaced.
Valerie Eyford, Port Alice Health Forum President, stated that, “Overall this was an excellent presentation and we were pleased to have them come to Port Alice and help us with our understanding of the opioid epidemic and behaviours which may cause harm.”
Eyford added that this presentation provided her a greater understanding of the disease processes and drug abuse.
For example, she became aware of the different types of Hepatitis and the many forms it can take.
With regard to drug abuse, she was surprised to discover how young people steal drugs from their parents’ and grandparents’ medicine cabinets to share at parties, “These prescription drugs may be to treat various conditions, i.e. heart disease, high blood pressure and so on, which can be potentially very dangerous when not taken as prescribed.”
Viel affirmed that she is available to come back and do another session if the community feels it is warranted.
The Harm Reduction Outreach Team is a harm reduction-based outreach program that strives to meet people where they are at in their relationship with substance use and support them without blame, shame or assumption.
They are positioned to provide underserved individuals with the opportunity to connect or reconnect with a variety of health care and social services.
They also work at the community level to increase harm reduction education and supports. Partnering with the North Island Positive Wellness program, they offer local support to people living with HIV and Hepatitis C.
If you are in need of their services or would like more information you can always contact Wilson at 250-230-1596, email, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Veil at 250-230-0144, email, email@example.com.
– Debra Lynn article
* This article has been updated with correct information about the sale of Naloxone kits.