BC Centre for Disease Control naloxone kit (Darryl Dick/The Canadian Press)

Dying of embarrassment: Asking for a Naloxone kit in a small B.C. town

Naloxone is free for everyone, amid an opioid overdose epidemic killing thousands

The walls are covered in posters – pictures of babies nursing at the breast alongside a photograph of a woman and the words: Sister, Mother, Friend, Addict.

It’s the office of Princeton’s public health unit, located in the same building as the hospital on Ridgewood Drive, at the back. To get there you follow the parking lot past the Cascade Medical Clinic and down the hill.

The receptionist is on the phone, head bent over the desk taking notes, so there is opportunity for a first time visitor to look around, and also to work up some nerves.

She finishes and looks up with a friendly smile, asks how she can help me.

Deep breath.

I want a Naloxone kit, and I heard you can get them here.

She smiles again, says “Absolutely,” and directs to me to the public health nurse’s office.

Nobody asks for my name, or where I live, or who my doctor is, or anything about my health.

The only question the nurse has is if the kit is for myself, or for someone I am concerned about.

And I fumble that one. Just don’t know how to answer honestly.

She brings out a kit – it’s about the size and shape of a hard cover pencil case – and spreads out all the pieces on the counter.

There are brief directions and pictures on the inside cover, a plastic mask that can be employed to safely give mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, gloves, alcohol pads, three needles and three tiny bottles of Naloxone.

I am getting hands on training. The nurse helps me uncap all the tools and draw the drug up into the syringe.

This is helpful, because when it comes to syringes my knowledge is limited to administering Baby Tylenol and that was a long time ago

It takes about five minutes and throughout we are chatting and it’s more comfortable than one could imagine.

The hard part is at the end – confession time. Because this is an experiment and I’ve been deceptive.

Two weeks ago I had a conversation with a person in the community who uses drugs, and when I asked why he doesn’t have a Naloxone kit he said it would be too embarrassing to ask for one.

That got me thinking about whether that fear stops other people from obtaining this free, lifesaving, medicine.

After all, it’s a small town.

It’s small town that has experienced at least eight fatal overdoses or deaths by Fentanyl poisoning in the past two years.

It made me wonder what it feels like, to go to the public health unit, at the back of the hospital.

For the record, it’s about as stressful as walking into a coffee shop and ordering a Latte.

Possibly the thing that impressed me most was what happened when I eventually told the nurse my name, and that I work at the newspaper.

She said: Oh yes, I recognized you.

She did. Yet in that room I was anonymous and everything was done to protect my confidentiality and dignity.

If you are a drug user, if you have a friend or family member who uses drugs, don’t let secrecy or shame keep you from getting Naloxone.

It would be awful to watch someone die of embarrassment.

READ MORE: B.C. opioid overdoses still killing four people a day, health officials say

To report a typo, email:
publisher@similkameenspotlight.com
.



andrea.demeer@similkameenspotlight.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Greater Victoria developer rushes to demolish historic wall before Oak Bay applies heritage permit

Abstract Development punches holes in one of Oak Bay’s oldest stone walls

With $4M investment, Camosun College offers first sonography program on Vancouver Island

Starting in May 2020 students from Vancouver Island can pursue a career in sonography

New accessible playground opens at View Royal’s Eagle View Elementary School

Students overjoyed while faculty and parents feel relief

School district launches survey for George Jay Elementary name change

The Greater Victoria School District wants to take public cues before decisions are made

Scheer, Trudeau, Singh haggle over potential minority government outcome

If you believe the polls, it appears the Liberals and Conservatives are neck-and-neck

POLL: Do you think the day of the federal election should be a statutory holiday?

Increasing voter turnout has long been a goal of officials across the… Continue reading

Canucks beat Stanley Cup champs 4-3 in a shootout

Leivo nets winner, Vancouver dumps St. Louis for fourth straight win

Campbell River homicide suspects arrested in Vancouver

Two men remain in custody, but have not been charged

‘The more you test, the more you find’: Beef recalls a sign of success, experts say

Despite appearances, experts say a recent rise in major recalls is not a sign of food supply problems

Elizabeth May confirms plan to eliminate fish farming in open ocean pens

Green Party leader stops in Qualicum Beach as part of Island campaign

STRIKE: WFP and USW are back at the table for mediation

“No further updates until either an agreement is reached or one party or the other breaks off talks”

Green Party leader Elizabeth May rolls through Vancouver Island to boost a party stronghold

Mocks media, evokes Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela and promises change

Japanese buyer expands wood pellet contract with B.C.’s Pinnacle

Mitsui and Co. increases contract with Interior energy producer

Most Read