Calgary non-profit offers free naloxone clinics to fight stigma of drug addiction

Rosalind Davis is determined to get more people trained to use naloxone kits after losing her partner to a fentanyl overdose two years ago.

Rosalind Davis founded group after partner died of overdose

Rosalind Davis founded Changing the Face of Addiction after she lost her partner to an overdose. (Terri Trembath/CBC)

Rosalind Davis wants as many people as possible to know how to use a naloxone kit.

She is the founder of the Calgary advocacy group Changing the Face of Addiction.

"We are trying to put together as many informational sessions as we possibly can," Davis said.

Alex Unger demonstrates how to use a naloxone kit. (Terri Trembath/CBC)

Davis started the group shortly after her 34-year-old partner, Nathan Huggins-Rosenthal, died of a fentanyl overdose in 2015. 

Her passion is to change people's attitudes about addiction and treat people who are dealing with it with compassion. 

The group is now partnering with Safeworks, a needle distribution program through Alberta Health Services that aims to educate people about opioids, who is using them and how to help. 

"There is so much shame and stigma that comes with addiction that it can be really hard for families to speak out and to tell their story," Davis told CBC News.

Alex Unger, 22, volunteers with Changing the Face of Addiction. 

She has dealt with opioid addiction and believes normalizing the idea of using naloxone will help lessen the stigma around opioids such as fentanyl. 

"It doesn't really just happen to people on the street and people who struggle with it everyday. It could be a lot of people overdosing that had their first time or just used once in a while. And I think that's not being reached enough," Unger said.

Alex Unger said it's important to remove the stigma and shame that often comes with addiction. (Terri Trembath/CBC)

 The group has only held one session so far, but registration was full.  

"We encourage people if you want one in your community then to reach out to us and we'll see what we can do to come out and create that, because it's so important. We think the more people we can reach, the more lives we can save."

The next information session and naloxone clinic is scheduled for Monday evening. 

For more information, check out the Changing the Face of Addiction Facebook page.