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narcan aug17

The current opioid crisis shows few signs of slowing down. The prevalence of illegal drugs like heroin, and synthetic opioids such as fentanyl and carfentanil, continues to rise. What appears to be less discussed or acknowledged is the abuse of prescription painkillers. From someone overmedicating after a surgery to someone who becomes dependent on increasingly stronger doses for chronic ailments, the opioid crisis is evolving from the back alleys into more mainstream communities and locations.

Solutions and answers to the epidemic – from prevention on one end, to rehabilitation on the other – span the full spectrum of opioid continuum. But the need to intervene at the point of emergency – an overdose – has never been greater. Access and availability to the overdose antidote naloxone is now a critical lever to pull to help treat a victim at their most vulnerable point.

The administration of naloxone has primarily been led by medical professionals and first responders, such as police and firefighters. But as the epidemic spreads, public and private spaces where risk is also apparent should also have accessibility to naloxone. High schools and universities, shopping malls, nightclubs and bars, music festivals, campgrounds, any large outdoor events and even private businesses are all environments where risk could be mitigated with the availability of naloxone. 

Federal Health Minister Jane Philpott believes “this (crisis) remains a very serious public health threat,” and the data reinforces this statement. Numbers released from the Public Health Agency of Canada found an estimated 2,458 people died of opioid overdoses in 2016 in Canada, and according to Minister Philpott, “these deaths were preventable.”

Much like the inclusion of AEDs and EpiPens in public and private spaces, access to naloxone will provide a readily available treatment at the time it’s needed most – an emergency overdose situation. Expanding availability would also help alleviate the pressure on police forces and other first responders who have been the front-line soldiers in this war. Growing adoption rates among police forces and other first-responder agencies have been promising, but in severe cases where first-responders are unable to arrive in time to administer the life-saving medication, more options need to be available to the public.

Expanding availability of naloxone is now arguably an essential response to the current opioid crisis.

For more information, visit narcannasalspray.ca