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Naloxone, the “miraculous” drug that stops overdoses

By Stephanie Swensrude

As the drug supply in downtown Edmonton turns more toxic and more people die from opioid poisoning, employees at a Boyle Street pharmacy are hoping more people will start carrying naloxone kits around. 

“If you have one on you, you could literally save someone’s life,” said Veronica Machnowski, a fourth year practicum student at Mint Drugs + Pharmacy.

Machnowski said the volume of people needing naloxone kits is “almost too much”.  The drug supply in the area is potent and the users have high tolerances. This makes it easy for them to overdose, and these naloxone kits are in high demand.

“Some people come in, dump the whole bin into their bag to take, like, six,” said Machnowski.

However, naloxone isn’t just for people who use opioids. People who live downtown or travel through the area for work and school can carry a kit.

Naloxone kits are available at nearly all downtown pharmacies and at many pharmacies that aren’t central. Machnowski acknowledged that some may be hesitant to use the kits.

“I think at first it’s probably a little scary, if you’ve never used a needle and vial,” she said. 

Pharmacy staff will walk users through how to use the kit, and there are many videos online if you need a refresher after picking up the kit.

“If you see someone who is experiencing signs of an overdose, it’s pretty much always better to inject naloxone even if it’s not an opioid overdose,” said Machnowski. “There’s really no downsides.”

But if someone is experiencing an overdose, you can buy them time until EMS arrives and can do their job.

“Those first couple minutes are so important,” Machnowski said.

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