News / Calgary

Naloxone kits have gone unused on Calgary campuses

U of C, MRU received kits in February

Debbie Bruckner with the U of C says it’s been difficult to encourage at-risk students to get a naloxone kit.

Jennifer Friesen / For Metro

Debbie Bruckner with the U of C says it’s been difficult to encourage at-risk students to get a naloxone kit.

Dirk Chisholm hopes he never has to give a shot of naloxone to an overdosing student on campus, but he’s readily equipped if need be.

Chisholm, who’s part of an EMT certified group of University of Calgary students that assist in on campus medical calls, said the group has recently been given naloxone to combat on campus overdoses. Naloxone is an antidote that can reverse fentanyl overdoses.  

“I think it’s quite important we have the kits,” he said. “It’s not an issue unique to campus by any means — It seems to be quite an epidemic, so if something were to occur we’re quite equipped to handle that.”

In fact, The kits were made available to the U of C in February, but no students have acquired one.

Debbie Bruckner, senior director of access and support with student wellness, said it’s been difficult to encourage at-risk students to come forward and get a kit.

“There’s some stigma and reluctance, despite the fact that it’s confidential,” she said.

It’s still important, though, for the campus to have naloxone available, she added.

“The demographic — young adults — are the age group that is most at risk for using party drugs,” she said.

Like the U of C, Mount Royal University security staff also received about a dozen kits, in case overdosing events occur.

So far, MRU security hasn’t administered naloxone, but MRU’s Francesca Simon said she hopes at-risk students seek out a kit due to fentanyl’s deadly effect.

“I hope there’s no need for students to get a naloxone kit, but that perhaps doesn’t fall in line with what we’re hearing in the news,” said Simon, who’s the mental health nurse coordinator with the Wellness Centre.

More than 270 Albertans died from fentanyl overdoses last year —more than double the 2014 death toll. Of that number, 81 Calgarians died.

Simon said MRU nursing staff at the Wellness Centre will soon be trained to offer kits so they’re available on campus.

The naloxone kits will be available at no charge for addicts at high risk of opioid overdose, if they’re registered with an Alberta health-care insurance plan and have a valid personal health number.

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