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

‘It’s about equality’ says Penticton man rallying for Black Lives Matter

“Canada is not exempt from racism and oppression,” said Geoff Stathers, standing with his #BLM sign

No active confirmed COVID-19 cases in Interior Health: BCCDC

Numbers from the BCCDC’s dashboard show 193 of the 195 COVID-19 cases in the region have recovered

COLUMN: Efforts preserve and promote local agriculture

Farming will remain an important element in the region

Morning Start: Before Rosa Parks, there was Claudette Colvin

Your morning start for Thursday, June 4, 2020

COLUMN: Is parliament essential?

We need time to dig into the books and ensure that taxpayers are being respected

22 new COVID-19 test-positives, one death following days of low case counts in B.C.

Health officials urged British Columbians to ‘stand together while staying apart’

Injured equestrian rescued in North Okanagan

The Vernon Search and Rescue Group Society assisted in the Wednesday evening rescue

Limited summer camps fill up fast in North Okanagan

Some options for kids opened up by Greater Vernon Recreation Services

Federal aid for care home systems needed ahead of second wave, advocates say

Ontario Long Term Care Association calling for more action

B.C. woman, 26, fatally shot by police in Edmundston, N.B.

Police were conducting a well-being check at the time of the incident

Horgan calls for national anti-racism program; will pitch idea to PM, premiers

Premier John Horgan said he’s horrified by the death of George Floyd in the United States

Chilliwack dad rescues two young daughters after truck plunges into lake

“I used every single one of my angels that day,” said Dennis Saulnier

Police watchdog investigating fatal crash in Kelowna

Kelowna RCMP received a report of a single-vehicle collision on Bulman Road near Highway 97 on June 1

Most Read