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

Two new fires burning in the Arrow Lakes Region

One of the fires is burning approximately 30 kilometres northwest of Castlegar

Drug alert issued in Grand Forks after fentanyl, ‘benzos’ detected in test

They are advising additional care and to have drugs tested before using

Rossland Arena set to open with limited hours this October

Curling, figure skating, hockey and youth groups will be able to use arena when it opens

Municipal climate caucus, founded in Nelson, meets for national online conference

The group consists of 294 mayors, councillors and regional directors from across the country

Rossland to get at least one more cannabis shop

City council has decided to let Mountain Pineapple operate in the city

578 British Columbians currently infected with COVID-19

Seventy-eight new cases confirmed in past 24 hours

Conservation seizes fawn illegally kept captive in Vancouver Island home

A Comox Valley resident charged and fined under the Wildlife Act

Pandemic could be driving more parents to get on board with flu shot: study

University of B.C. study gauges willingness for parents to vaccinate children for influenza

Watchdog clears Okanagan RCMP in death of man after arrest over alleged stolen pizzas

The man died in hospital after having difficulty breathing and broken ribs

Have you seen Berleen? B.C. pig destined for sanctuary goes missing

Berleen was less than two weeks from travelling to Manitoba when she vanished

Health Canada says several kids hospitalized after eating edible pot products

People warned not to store cannabis products where children can find them

‘It’s not just about me’: McKenna cites need to protect politicians from threats

Police investigation was launched after someone yelled obscenities at a member of McKenna’s staff

Michigan plans dedicated road lanes for autonomous vehicles

First study of its kind in the U.S. to figure out whether existing lanes or shoulders could be used

Most Read