Pubdate: Tue, 17 Oct 2017
Source: Vancouver Sun (CN BC)
Copyright: 2017 Postmedia Network Inc.
Author: Nick Eagland
Page: A4


Students to learn to detect overdoses and reverse them using naloxone

The University of B.C.'s Alma Mater Society is organizing mass
training events to teach students to recognize and reverse drug
overdoses amid a devastating provincial health emergency that shows no
sign of slowing down.

Organizers say 120 students are registered for a two-hour training
session Thursday in the student union building at UBC's Vancouver
campus, where they'll learn the signs of an overdose, how to use a
naloxone kit and the role stigma-free language plays in improving the
lives of people who use drugs.

The training was orchestrated by AMS VICE, a group that provides
support to students who use substances. With registration at capacity
and the event still drawing interest from thousands more students, the
student society is already planning to hold more sessions to train as
many people as possible, said AMS president Alan Ehrenholz.

"This is something that is an issue of our time and we want them to be
prepared for the worst," Ehrenholz said. "We want to prepare our
students to respond in an emergency situation so that they can support
their peers and have a safe and fun party experience."

He said the university has been supportive of the AMS's efforts and he
hopes students will take their training with them off campus so that
they can provide support in emergencies wherever they are.

The AMS asked Karmik, a group of harm-reduction experts, to provide
the training. Co-founder Munroe Craig said up to a dozen peer trainers
from her group will teach students about factors that increase risk of
overdose, harm reduction, indicators of respiratory depression and
ways to use compassion when working with people struggling with
substance use.

Craig said that in the past she's found it politically challenging to
provide training to large groups in institutional settings, but said
Karmik was keen to answer the AMS's call for help.

She said working with students is particularly important because they
may not be aware that even "party drugs," such as cocaine and MDMA,
are increasingly being tainted with the toxic opioid fentanyl, which
has been detected in more than 80 per cent of drug deaths this year.

Recent testing at the Insite supervised-injection facility found that
40 per cent of cocaine samples contained fentanyl. A Canadian Centre
on Substance Use and Addiction study found that 2.4 per cent of
respondents aged 15-24 reported in 2013 that they had used cocaine in
the past year.

"With a lot of youth or young adults that are maybe not intending to
use an opiate, there is a lot of polysubstance use going on by virtue
of the fact that no substance is pure or clean anymore," Craig said.

Naloxone kits will be provided for free by the B.C. Centre of Disease
Control, which has already distributed more than 50,000 kits this year.

The program launches a week after the B.C. Coroners Service released a
disturbing report showing that illicit-drug overdoses had killed 1,013
people across the province in the first eight months of 2017, up from
982 for all of 2016. One in four deaths were in Vancouver and 18 per
cent of those who died were 19 to 29 years old.

VICE co-ordinator Alex Dauncey, who is working with AMS student
services manager Marium Hamid to run the naloxone training, said the
high demand for it proves students are "hungry" to fight back against
the overdose crisis.

"Often, I feel like people don't really want to talk about the fact
that people use drugs or that people may be in harm using drugs,"
Dauncey said. "I'm really heartened by the fact that people in my
community and my generation are taking concrete steps to reduce these
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MAP posted-by: Matt