Pubdate: Fri, 21 Jul 2017
Source: Metro (Halifax, CN NS)
Copyright: 2017 Metro Canada
Author: Haley Ryan
Page: A1


Advocate calls for more details on N.S. opioid plan

Nova Scotia's plan to offer hundreds of free naloxone kits will
undoubtedly save lives, but one advocate says a lack of hard timelines
and specific plans to help people outside an opioid emergency raises
"more questions than answers."

Amy Graves, founder of the non-profit Get Prescription Drugs Off The
Street Society, has been raising awareness around the dangers of
prescription drugs and pushing for changes since 2011, after the loss
of her younger brother Josh to an accidental hydromorphone overdose.

"We have to keep people alive; that's our first order of business. But
then what? They need accessible treatment, harm reduction and safe
consumption because not everyone's going to be ready for treatment,"
Graves said.

Free access to naloxone - a medication that reverses an overdose - has
long been one of the society's requests, and Graves is happy to see
300 pharmacies offer it this September. However, the group's upcoming
rally in Halifax will still call for improvements like safe
consumption sites, which the province said it's "exploring" but more
studies are needed.

Whether someone is actively using, trying to access treatment or
looking for mental-health supports in aftercare, Graves said
"wraparound services" are vital to support people at every stage.

Though Graves is pleased to see that Nova Scotia will post overdose
numbers online for educational purposes, she argues location and
demographics should be included - rather than just "counting bodies" -
to ensure resources are aimed where needed.

Graves pointed out that opioid deaths have long been a health issue in
Nova Scotia. She said the highest toll was in 2012 with 67 deaths,
while there were 53 deaths in 2016 - but it's only now that illicit
drugs like fentanyl are on the rise that politicians are taking action.
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