A harm reduction advocate in Sydney says she's eager to hand out hundreds of kits of naloxone, an antidote to opioid overdoses, to drug users in Cape Breton.
Cape Breton has the highest rate of overdose deaths per capita in Nova Scotia.
Opiates are the number one killer, accounting for a third of the drugs reported in overdoses.
300 kits could be handed out
Sam Hodder with Mental Health and Addiction Services in Cape Breton, says the region will receive just over $50,000 for a trial to demonstrate that naloxone saves lives.
Officials will work with Ally Centre of Cape Breton to roll out the program which envisions about 300 kits of the opioid receptor blocker to be given out.
Hailed as a life-saving treatment if administered within minutes of an overdose, naloxone will be prescribed to drug users to inject into other drug users who are overdosing.
Education and training
The funding will also pay for education and training.
Drug users will learn about harm reduction, how to spot signs of an overdose, and how to safely administer the antidote.
Naloxone is a prescription drug and Health Canada is currently reviewing that status.
Hodder says if naloxone was no longer considered a prescription medication, it would make it possible for family members of drug users to get their hands on it in order to save a loved one.
In the meantime, family members will be included in the pilot project by teaching them about harm reduction and identifying symptoms of overdose.
Hodder hopes naloxone kits will be ready to hit the streets of Cape Breton early in the new year.