This community health group says every Albertan should have a naloxone kit
The Alex offers weekly hands on training in downtown Calgary
Staff at a community health organization say demand for naloxone kits is higher than ever.
That's why staff at The Alex Community Health Centre have stationed themselves at Good Neighbour Community Market — a pay-what-you-can thrift store in downtown Calgary — every Thursday between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.
They teach people how to administer naloxone — which reverses the effects of an opioid overdose — and hand out the kits, all for free.
"We should be talking more about the opioid crisis," said Jennifer Eyford, associate director, mental health, addictions and outreach at The Alex Community Health Centre.
She says multiple Albertans die each day of opioid poisoning.
"The street supply is incredibly contaminated. And folks experience stigma and don't access services. So if nothing else, we need to talk more about it, everyone should be in the possession of a naloxone kit."
All types of people — from those living or spending a lot of time on the streets to young professionals — come in for training.
"Often it's like, 'Oh, but I have nothing to do with this world.' Well, it's not about you, it's about you saving someone else's life. And then all of a sudden, they're way more interested and feel like well, I could be a hero, I could be a lifesaver.
Sebastian Benavides, a team lead with The Alex Community Health Centre street team, says people working with vulnerable communities see the opioid crisis play out every day.
"The opioid crisis is the worst I think it's been in the last three years. Things are only continuing to get worse as conditions are so exacerbated by COVID-19," he said.
Benavides says people from all walks of life can benefit from the training.
"People are coming to us and saying, 'I've I found somebody unresponsive in my apartment stairwell or outside in the alleyways.' And people really do want to be able to be more proactive."
Benavides says the hands-on training offers the opportunity to practice injections on an injection pad, which may help trainees get comfortable with delivering the medication in the event of an overdose.
In addition to the training sessions, The Alex also hands out hundreds of kits each month.
With files from Dan McGarvey