Pubdate: Tue, 29 Aug 2017
Source: Niagara Falls Review, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 Niagara Falls Review
Author: Kris Dube
Page: A1


Niagara is not immune to opioid use.

Opiods are being used all over the region, not just in areas with
lowincome housing and high crime rates.

According to Positive Living executive director Glen Walker, hard
drugs such as fentanyl aren't only a problem in larger municipalities
such as St. Catharines and Niagara Falls, places such as Fort Erie and
Welland also have many users, part of an epidemic across Niagara.

"We have a lot of work to do," Walker says.

One of the measures being taken by Positive Living through its harm
reduction programming is handing out kits of naloxone, a medication
used to reverse the effects of opioids which is highly recommended to
counteract an overdose when it's taking place.

Walker says close to 600 kits have been handed out by his organization
in the region and have saved lives when they are administered
correctly, usually in a situation where the user has not been taking
drugs alone and has someone else in the room.

They are also provided through pharmacies and some methadone clinics,
he says.

With a mobile delivery service that takes the naloxone, also known as
Narcan, to areas of Niagara where it is needed, Walker says anyone who
has not yet been able to overcome addiction should have one of the
kits at their side.

"There's so many opportunities to get them and to see someone overdose
without one - there's no reason that should happen," he says.

Positive Living Niagara is hosting an International Overdose Awareness
Day event at the Central Avenue Fire Station in Fort Erie on Thursday.
Several organizations will be there to provide information for people
affected by opioid use.

The event will include a vigil for anyone who has lost a loved one to

Kyle Kubik is a 24-year-old from Fort Erie who died from an overdose
in June 2016. His mother, Kellie, is hoping other users, parents,
loved ones and the public will attend the gathering, where compassion
and awareness will be the main focus. She vividly remembers Niagara
Regional Police coming to her door at 3:30 a.m., telling her and her
husband that Kyle had been found on a local street with no vital signs.

First responders tried to revive him and were successful in regaining
a heartbeat. He was transported to Greater Niagara General Hospital
and it was determined he had suffered a major cardiac arrest and brain

The Kubik family made the decision to keep his body alive to attempt
to donate any organs possible. After about 36 hours, Kyle was gone.

The autopsy revealed he had eight times the toxic amount of fentanyl
in his body, according to his mother in a recent interview.

He had overdosed at home five months earlier. That incident involved
immediate intervention and response including the administration of
naloxone. He was "provided the chance to live another day," she says.

Kellie says her son was an outgoing, caring, hardworking young adult
with numerous exceptional characteristics.

"Like any of us, he had flaws that he recognized and was working
towards overcoming," she says.

Kyle was on a waiting list to enter a rehab program when he

"And, like many others in that process, he faltered, which led him to
use opioids again. But this time, without rapid intervention of the
administration of naloxone, he was not able to make another day."

She hopes the Fort Erie event will be a forum for conversation about
safer drug use, the risks of using alone, immediate access to
services, and how to reduce the stigma towards people who use drugs.

"This is a call to action to get informed, to get involved, and to
help raise awareness so that more people get another chance at life,"
she says.

"Knowing the real facts about drugs and what to do when you see
someone experiencing an overdose saves lives."

Another person who plans to attend the event Thursday is Chris Howe,
who has been in recovery from addiction for more than six years and is
also a firefighter. He will join a group from Windsor called Spiritual
Soldiers, which raises money for the war against addiction.

As someone who works in emergency services, he is on many medical
calls that involve drug overdoses. He says naloxone does save lives,
and people who have not been able to beat their demons should always
keep a kit nearby.

"I see it being used and how quickly it can counteract the drug," he

There will be guest speakers and multiple organizations and agencies
at the fire station in Fort Erie Thursday. The event begins at 6:30
p.m. Everyone is welcome.

International Overdose Awareness Day is a global event held each year
and aims to raise awareness of overdose and reduce the stigma of a
drug-related death. It also touches on the grief felt by families and
friends remembering people who have met with death or permanent injury
as a result of drug overdose.

The event will end with a memorial for people who have lost loved ones
to addiction.

Free transportation to the event is being offered by Dunn the Mover
and there are buses leaving from various fire halls in Fort Erie,
starting at 6 p.m.

Organizers also say there is an important online survey about
addiction services at .
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