Prince Albert gathering aims to make overdose resources more accessible

An International Overdose Awareness Day event in Prince Albert provided free Naloxone kits, education and training. – Jayda Taylor/Daily Herald

A group of Prince Albert organizations providing addictions support gathered in Kinsmen Park on Thursday to spread awareness.

The Saskatchewan Health Authority hosted the event for International Overdose Awareness Day. The gathering intended to fight stigmas surrounding addictions and help those impacted access resources, according to Reyna Siwak from Prince Albert Mobile Crisis.

“We need a lot more resources, to be honest, but what we have right now is amazing,” she said.

“We have more people in our community who are suffering as a result of the traumas that they’ve endured in the past and, I mean, it doesn’t just impact them – it impacts their family, it impacts the community.”

Often, Siwak said, people associate addictions with those who are “down in their life.” However, addiction doesn’t discriminate to one demographic.

“It’s everyone,” she said.

Mobile Crisis provides support for a range of topics, whether it be addictions, grief, self-harm, or mental health-related crises.

“It helps you see where people are at in their lives and if you can be able to be that support for them, it’s very rewarding.”

The public had access free Naloxone kits, education and training at the gathering.

Siwak said she’s trained to use Naloxone. Thankfully, though, she’s never had to use it.

Naloxone is a medication used to reverse the effects of opioids, which are pain-relieving drugs such as fentanyl, codeine and oxycodone.

“It’s there to make sure that people aren’t going to die, and that’s the biggest thing,” said Siwak. “It takes very little to be able to learn about it.”

If someone is overdosing from opioids, they may have slow or no breathing, tiny or pinpoint pupils, cold or clammy skin and aren’t moving or can’t be woken. If the person is unresponsive, call 911 and start CPR.

Even if you’re unsure what drugs the person took, use naloxone, according to a brochure from Access Place. It won’t do any harm if an opioid is not present.

You can also use take-home drug testing strips that detect fentanyl or benzodiazepine.

The provincial government has launched a new multi-year overdose awareness campaign. This year focuses on Regina’s Ivy Kennedy, who lost two of her grandchildren to overdoses.

“It’s been hard to talk about it. It’s an every day struggle,” said Kennedy.

“I tried my best to save them. They didn’t want to die. Don’t give up. There is help out there, all you have to do is ask.”

Canada’s Good Samaritan Overdose Act protects you from possession charges if you call 911 for overdose assistance. It became law in 2017.

It does not protect you from more serious crimes, though, such as outstanding warrants or drug trafficking.