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

Alberta minister says families claim naloxone encourages drug users to take more risk

When administered properly the life-saving medication can rapidly reverse the effects of an opioid overdose

An Alberta government minister says families affected by opioid abuse have told him that naloxone was encouraging their loved ones to take greater risks because they knew the life-saving drug could save them if they went too far.

Associate Minister of Health and Addictions Jason Luan made the comment Friday when speaking to reporters about concerns he’d heard during a roundtable discussion in Calgary to mark Saturday’s Overdose Awareness Day.

The Opposition NDP is demanding United Conservative Premier Jason Kenney fire Luan, with the party’s shadow critic calling the remark “disgraceful and offensive to those grieving the loss of a loved one.”

Last month, Luan deleted a tweet he’d made that questioned the science supporting supervised drug consumption sites, suggesting it was funded by the “multi-billion-dollar Pharma industry.”

This month, the province appointed a panel to examine the social and economic effects of safe consumption sites for drug users.

Luan tweeted Saturday that naloxone kits saves lives, and the government supports their availability.

“I met with many families adversely affected by addiction to hear their heart-wrenching stories and views. Some families expressed concern that the presence of naloxone was encouraging their loved ones to take greater risks, knowing that the life-saving drug was nearby,” Luan wrote.

“I was asked by media what I heard from families, and recited many examples, including this one. This concern was expressed by families and are their words and experience. This is not my opinion or the position of the government of Alberta.”

In his remarks to reporters on Friday, Luan said there was “a fine line” between wanting to help, and becoming “an enabler.”

A review of safe injection sites was a UCP election promise, but the Opposition has suggested the panel is rigged against the sites because they claim it’s stacked with advocates of an “abstinence-only” approach.

Heather Sweet, NDP Opposition critic for mental health and addictions, said Saturday that Luan’s latest comments about naloxone shows he lacks understanding of the opioid crisis.

“For the Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions to imply people are intentionally overdosing is disgraceful and offensive to those grieving the loss of a loved one today,” Sweet said in a news release.

“In just a few short months, it’s become clear Minister Luan lacks the understanding, sensitivity, and competence to do his job. Premier Kenney should fire this minister immediately.”

Alberta Health Services has made kits available at pharmacies and walk-in clinics free for anyone who wants one, without requiring identification or a prescription.

When administered properly the life-saving medication can rapidly reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.

Federal Health Minister Ginette Petipas Taylor announced in July that $22.3 million from the recent federal budget will be used to get naloxone kits and overdose training sessions to underserved communities so more Canadians can save lives.

ALSO READ: Grief, anger as family mourns Langley teen who died of apparent overdose

ALSO READ: B.C. and Yukon Association of Drug War survivors calls for heroin buyer clubs

The Canadian Press


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.

Latest winter storm prompts West Kootenay travel warning

20-30 cm of snow expected overnight and into Thursday

PLACE NAMES: Valley of the Ghosts

A ghostly nickname haunts the stretch between Kaslo and New Denver

‘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

Canucks extend home win streak to 8 with 4-1 triumph over Sharks

Victory lifts Vancouver into top spot in NHL’s Pacific Division

BC Green Party leader visits northern B.C. pipeline protest site

Adam Olsen calls for better relationship between Canada, British Columbia and First Nations

B.C. society calls out conservation officer after dropping off bear cub covered in ice

Ice can be seen in video matted into emaciated bear cub’s fur

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

Most Read