There is a lot of talk about the overdose crisis, but the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) is confident – there is a way to stop it.
For over 10 years they've been training people so they could recognize and prevent overdose-related deaths. The SHA offers training options for any companies interested in having their employees or board members taking it. They also offer personal training on using take-home naloxone kits for individuals.
The industry support program is organized through addictions services. Its purpose is to provide support to employers in identifying and addressing substance use and misuse within the workplace.
"It's really the avenue that we use to take that take-home naloxone training and get it out to the community so we just offer it through that program because it's the easiest way to get it out there," said Jody Miller, supervisor for addictions services for Southeast 8 and 9, which is the former Sun Country Health Region.
Any Saskatchewan resident can access the take-home Naloxone training. To actually take home a kit, participants would need to be someone who is at risk of opioid overdose themselves or may be a witness to an overdose. They are also offered free training on how to use the kit.
A business or organization that is looking to book a presentation and training can do that just by calling addictions services in Weyburn directly at 1-306-842-8693.
Miller went on to explain that the more people have this training the better, as it helps to make it safer for everyone.
"The knowledge and awareness around overdose and naloxone and just substance use and abuse, in general, can keep our community safer," Miller said.
The presentation covers what an overdose looks like, which helps people identify it if it's happening around them. It also talks about what steps to take when responding to an overdose. Besides, it encompasses how to administer naloxone appropriately if there is an overdose.
"The training covers a lot of different areas that can be really helpful to people, from education to practical use. The more people out there that know about that, the safer our communities are. The mortality is obviously greatly reduced when the community has a better awareness of how to mitigate those risks and recognize and respond appropriately and in a timely manner to things like an overdose or substance misuse in general," Miller said.
Usually, the training session for a business doesn't take much time, however, it depends on how many people there are in the company that are going through the training.
"If there are more people, obviously we want people to become comfortable with using a syringe and doing practice injections so that it can take a little longer with more people. But typically, it's about an hour, maybe an hour and a half. And if it is an individual who is wanting a kit, they're eligible for a kit, because they may be at risk of overdose themselves, or they might know somebody who's at risk, then when they come in for individual training, that's significantly less time, that's maybe 20 to 30 minutes for the actual training" Miller said.
There is no cost to have the training organized at your business or organization, or to go through it individually. And this training has been saving lives through the years.
"The industry support program has been around for probably over 10 years and it's going to be around for a long time. That's what we're using to get that information out there. The Naloxone program has been very well received in the province and it's saved a lot of lives. It's really been beneficial, and that is probably going to stay around for a long time as well," Miller said.
She added that they are always willing to get the training and presentations out to those people, organizations or businesses that have any interest in learning about Naloxone or any other aspect of substance use. And they also are doing their best to just raise awareness about Naloxone kits and thus improve the situation with opioid overdoses.
"The most important part is we want to make people just really aware that these kits are available in Estevan and they are also available in the small, surrounding rural areas of Estevan. And that they are available to individuals who need them, immediately upon request. Everything is confidential, we don't even ask your name in order to give you a kit. And they're completely free," Miller said.
"So we really would love people to reach out if they're in need of a kit. They can do that by just calling directly to the mental health and addictions services office in Estevan, which is 306-637-3610 and we'd put them through to one of our addiction counsellors, and they'll get you a kit and arrange training if you need."