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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Jumbo Valley to be protected, ending decades-long dispute over proposed ski resort

Development rights permanently retired for site of proposed year-round ski resort west of Invermere

FedEx distribution centre coming to Castlegar

Development permit for ground facility before council next week.

Kootenay teams heading for curling provincials

Team Buchy and Team Nichols won the senior playdowns.

Trust delivers social grants, several in Trail and Rossland

Columbia Basin Trust supports 31 projects with $680,000 in social grants

Hospital in Trail goes from zero to 100!

Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital is one of 4 service hospitals operating in Interior Health

‘Like an ATM’: World’s first biometric opioid-dispensing machine launches in B.C.

First-of-its-kind dispensing machine unveiled in the Downtown Eastside with hopes of curbing overdose deaths

Horgan cancels event in northern B.C. due to security concerns, says Fraser Lake mayor

The premier will still be visiting the city, but the location and day will not be made public

B.C. landlord sentenced to two years in jail for torching his own rental property

Wei Li was convicted of intentionally lighting his rental property on fire in October 2017

PHOTOS: Eastern Newfoundland reeling, search underway for missing man after blizzard

More than 70 centimetres of new snow fell overnight, creating whiteout conditions

Prince Harry, Meghan to give up ‘royal highness’ titles

‘Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much loved members of my family,’ says Queen Elizabeth II

Calls for dialogue as Coastal GasLink pipeline polarizes some in northern B.C.

Coastal GasLink is building the 670-kilometre pipeline from British Columbia’s northeast to Kitimat on the coast

Closed mills, housing surge support a positive forecast for lumber industries

B.C. lumber producers have closed mills accounting for 18% of province’s capacity, RBC report says

Good Samaritan pays part of rent for B.C. woman facing eviction in can-collecting dispute

Zora Hlevnjak, 76, supplements her pension by collecting cans and receiving public donations

Kelowna’s ‘Baby Mary’ finds biological parents after more than 30 years

Geneologist and DNA test helped her connect with her biological parents

Most Read