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

Kootenay doctor among 82 physicians, dentists calling on province for mandatory mask rule

Open letter says masks should be worn in indoor public spaces, public transportation or in crowds

Structures not threatened by wildfires burning in the Arrow and Kootenay Lakes region

Official says more lightning-caused fires could occur in region over next 36 hours

West Kootenay region experiences drier-than-normal July: Report

The region only received around 57% of its normal precipitation during the month

Feds fund $2M for habitat conservation in the Kootenays

Kootenay Connect to use funding for habitat conservation to protect four areas in the region

No new COVID cases in Kootenay-Boundary

As of July 30, there were no additional cases in the previous two weeks

Dwindling B.C. bamboo supply leaves Calgary Zoo biologists worried about pandas

Zoo has been trying to send pandas back to China since May

Facebook launches its new TikTok clone, Instagram Reels

Facebook has a long tradition of cloning competitive services

B.C. Appeal Court prevents Victoria woman from using the term ‘death midwife’ in her job

Pashta MaryMoon claimed she had been providing “death-care services” for more than 40 years

‘We all have anxieties’: B.C.’s top doctor addresses return-to-school fears amid COVID-19

Dr. Bonnie Henry promises school restart plan safe for B.C. kids

Abbotsford mom worried about her two kids in Beirut following explosion

Shelley Beyak’s children were abducted by their dad in 2018

Young Canadians, hospitality workers bear the brunt of mental strain in 2020: report

A study by Morneau Shepell points to economic uncertainty in the pandemic as the cause for angst

Health Canada recalling more than 50 hand sanitizers in evolving list

Organization says to stop using products listed, and to consult a health-care professional

Airborne hot dog strikes Greater Victoria pedestrian

Police called to 4200-block of Quadra Street for hot dog incident

Most Read