Provincewide naloxone advertising campaign to launch in N.L.
Opioid antidote can save lives, if drug users and their families know where to find it
Newfoundland and Labrador's provincial public awareness campaign to be unveiled on Monday aims to ensure that anyone who wants a naloxone kit will know where to get one.
Twenty-one people are alive in the province today because they had access to the opioid antidote naloxone, according to Dr. John Haggie, N.L. minister of health and community services.
The awareness campaign launched today will target locations across the province in order to warn people that drugs mixed with opioids can kill them.
"It's to try to get to a community that might be very isolated and very marginalized," said Haggie.
The campaign will include internet and newspaper ads, as well as leaflets and wallet cards containing essential information. A poster blitz is also planned.
"They'll be on the bars on George Street, or in Corner Brook or Gander," said Haggie. "They'll be in hospitals, community centres and theatres. There'll be something to see in the street."
It really is an issue of concern to everybody.- Tree Walsh, SWAP needle exchange
In a three-week period this spring there were 18 overdoses in the St. John's area.
Jim Chapman told CBC News earlier this month that his 39-year-old daughter, Nicole, died from an overdose of fentanyl-laced heroin. Street drugs are increasingly being mixed with fentanyl to increase their potency.
The powerful synthetic opioid fentanyl first arrived in the province about four years ago. Twenty-three overdoses have been attributed to the drug so far this year on the Eastern Avalon.
- Naloxone kits launched to prevent 'significant problem' of opioid overdoses
- Killer drugs: N.L. death count rose to 20 last year; fentanyl a factor in 5 fatal overdoses
The office of the chief medical examiner told CBC News last week that only one death could be attributed to fentanyl.
"It really is an issue of concern to everybody," said Tree Walsh, co-ordinator of the Safe Works Access Program (SWAP), a needle exchange in St. John's.
"When we first started to advocate for the distribution of naloxone that's one of the things that we highlighted, that it needs to be publicly advertised and it's finally rolling out," said Walsh.
It is a problem. It's not going to go away any time soon- Dr. John Haggie, N.L. health minister
Walsh is heartened that the message about what where to find naloxone kits will reach outside the capital city region. There are now 79 public access points across the province where naloxone kits can be obtained for free. The province has distributed 1,200 kits and plans to make more available.
"The easy point of contact is to ring 811. We will actually as part of our promotion be providing locations," said Haggie.
Walsh stresses the importance of targeting families and friends of people using drugs so they can access kits and help prevent overdoses.
"Maybe the stigma of having a naloxone kit in your house will drop and it will be there next to your first aid kit,' said Walsh.
"It is a problem. It's not going to go away any time soon and we have to be prepared for the next phase of this whatever it might be," Haggie said.
- 15 overdoses, 1 death in last two weeks prompt warning from Eastern Health
- Naloxone, fentanyl antidote, available in take-home kit that's saved hundreds of lives
Haggie will make an announcement on the public awareness campaign and new initiatives relating to the St. John's Community Action Group on Fentanyl this morning in Bannerman Park.
He will be joined by Dennis O'Keefe, mayor of St. John's, and members of community outreach organizations.