Pubdate: Thu, 20 Jul 2017
Source: Metro (Halifax, CN NS)
Copyright: 2017 Metro Canada
Author: Yvette d'Entremont


Access to drug will save lives, says front-line worker

A Halifax woman working on the front lines of the opioid crisis
describes the province's decision to expand access to naloxone as "a
great first step.".

Naloxone can reverse an opioid overdose. A department of health and
wellness media release reports that the life-saving medication has
saved at least 40 lives in Nova Scotia since January of 2016.

"We had three overdoses in one week. My team has naloxone training,"
said Rebekah Brounstein, residential co-ordinator with the Salvation
Army's Halifax Centre of Hope.

"They use it. They know how to use it. We have to use it to save these

The province's opioid framework announced Wednesday includes regular
reporting and public education in addition to making free naloxone
kits available to the public by Sept. 1.

"This is about saving a human life. Someone's loved one, brother,
sister, mother, father. With the lack of accessible medical staff, our
first responders and street nurses are only so many, and can only do
so much," Brounstein said.

"This will allow us to hopefully get ahead of the opioid crisis, with
the ultimate goal being to save lives and help those in need without

The Salvation Army's Centre of Hope in Halifax includes a men's
shelter and an addictions centre.

Brounstein said opioid abuse has become "quite prevalent" in the area,
along with a spike in overdoses.

"We're scared. We don't know from day to day how many or who," she

"We have an idea of the clients who are in distress with opioids and
we just try to keep them safe and watch them."

One of Brounstein's colleagues believes the number of local clients
with opioid addictions has tripled in the last seven years.

"That's not a hard statistic, but anecdotally from what he's seen,"
she said.

"In the past six months it seems that alcohol abuse is not as obvious
as the opioid abuse here in Halifax."

Brounstein said they have reason to believe that fentanyl and perhaps
even the far stronger carfentanil are here on the streets.

She urged people in the broader community to try and be more
understanding and to help them remove some of the stigma surrounding

"This is a societal problem and we all need to be accountable because
it doesn't discriminate at all," she said.

It could be your daughter, it could be your brother, it could be your
sister, it could be your mother, it could be anybody you know. It just
takes once and it doesn't discriminate on the basis of gender, age,
education or your level of station in society."
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