#RethinkPharmacists: Providing tools to prevent overdose-related harm

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Naloxone kit

Do you know someone taking opioid medications? Then you should have a naloxone kit in case of accidental overdose. In Ontario, naloxone kits are available free of charge at participating pharmacies, thanks to the Ontario Naloxone Program for Pharmacies.

Overdoses on medications like oxycodone and fentanyl have been on the rise in Canada, claiming as many as 9,000 lives between January 2016 and June 2018. These widely prescribed medications can be addictive and are often used for recreational purposes. Misuse of any kind – accidental ingestion by someone who doesn’t normally take opioids, mixing the drug with other substances, taking a dose that is too high – can be deadly, as an overdose can cause the person using the drug to stop breathing.

This is where naloxone comes in – it’s a life-saving medication that can be administered via nasal spray or injection. Naloxone reverses the effect of an overdose so that the person in danger starts breathing again and can be taken to a hospital.

Naloxone kits are freely available at pharmacies and from public health agencies. Your pharmacist can demonstrate how to use either form of naloxone. This video also shows how to identify an overdose and give naloxone:

The #RethinkPharmacists series is presented by the Waterloo School of Pharmacy for Pharmacist Awareness Month in March. The series highlights services pharmacists provide in addition to standard prescription filling and counselling.