Sudbury

More downtown businesses in Sudbury asking for naloxone and how to use it, says public health nurse

A public health nurse in Sudbury says more organizations, businesses and churches in the city’s downtown are starting to ask for naloxone kits and training on how to administer the life-saving medication.

No one should ever hesitate to save another person's life, says former addict Pastor Brad Hale

“We're now seeing more people requesting naloxone because they recognize that an opioid overdose can happen anywhere and being prepared is the first best step," says Brenda Stankiewicz, a public health nurse with Public Health Sudbury & Districts. (Martha Dillman/CBC)

A public health nurse in Sudbury says more organizations in the city's downtown are starting to ask for naloxone kits and training on how to use the medication.

Brenda Stankiewicz is with Public Health Sudbury & Districts. Her mandate is to distribute naloxone kits and train people on how to use them. She works with community health centres, Indigenous health centres, AIDS organizations, outreach groups, shelters, withdrawal management and hospitals.

Stankiewicz says public health also distributes naloxone to police and fire services and St. John Ambulance for these organizations to administer the drug in the case of an opioid emergency.

She says she's had 20 requests for training over the past year on how to administer the life-saving medication — and interest is growing. 

"At first, I guess, there was a sort of reluctance to use naloxone or to be carrying it because people felt that, this isn't me, I don't know anyone who uses opioids, this is not my problem," she said.

"As we have seen the use of opioids grow in the community, we've seen the need for naloxone increase and we're now seeing more people requesting naloxone because they recognize that an opioid overdose can happen anywhere and being prepared is the first best step," she said. 

Stankiewicz says downtown businesses and churches have also expressed an interest in getting the training to help save lives. 

"Anybody who is downtown has likely seen or been affected by opioid use that is happening in our communities so they have been asking," Stankiewicz said. "Our advice to them is that we are able to do training but to get their naloxone from a pharmacy."

Pastor Brad Hale is director of the Elgin Street Mission in downtown Sudbury. He says they see one or two people overdose every week. Hale says not everyone on his staff was comfortable with getting trained on how to administer naloxone. 

Pastor Brad Hale says there's a naloxone kit in his office and in the kitchen at the Elgin Street Mission in downtown Sudbury. (Markus Schwabe/CBC)

Hale says people were afraid of doing it wrong. "What if we do it and it causes greater harm to the person," said Hale. Some felt that they were encouraging or enabling. Hale's advice is to always call 911 first.

"Even if you do give someone naloxone spray then it brings them out of that high and they're instantaneously sobre and going through withdrawal," said Hale. He stressed that they need medical attention. 

Hale says he speaks from his personal experience of having been an addict. "Going through withdrawal is pretty intense." 

"A lot of times if you're out there and you see someone and you spray them, anticipate they're going to be very angry because you've just ruined their buzz, you're like, I saved your life, but no, you ruined my buzz. They don't like attention. They don't like medical attention," Hale said. 

Hale says there's a naloxone kit in his office and one in the kitchen. 

He says no one should ever hesitate to save another person's life. "If you have that in your hand — that possibility of saving a life, why would you not want to use it?"

With files from Kate Rutherford

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