Take-home naloxone kits provided in Northern Sask. health region.

A health region in northern Saskatchewan is now offering take-home naloxone kits to help prevent deaths due to opioid overdose.The Ministry of Health is providing $50,000 this year to fund take-home naloxone programs in the health regions.

Naloxone is a potentially life-saving medication that can reverse the effects of an overdose and has become the standard treatment for overdoses of fentanyl, a synthetic drug that is 50-100 times more potent than morphine.

Keewatin Yatthe Regional Health Authority is the ninth health region in the province to offer the kits, along with Saskatoon, Regina Qu’Appelle, Prairie North, Sunrise, Prince Albert, Five Hills, Sun Country and Heartland.

Byrne Richards, director of addictions and mental health for the Keewatin Yatthe Regional Health Authority says, “Anywhere where opioids are used, there’s a need for these kits, and we have opioid usage in our health region.”

Providing the kits aligns with the principles of harm reduction.

“We’re not here to judge people for doing what they do,” said Richards adding ,”It’s about keeping people alive, to stay alive long enough to maybe make a better choice, whatever it is they choose.”

In Keewatin Yatthe, the take-home kits contain two doses of injectable naloxone, a syringe, an alcohol swab, a face shield, gloves and an instruction manual.

The kits are free to at-risk people, who must take 60 to 90 minutes of training on recognizing, preventing and responding to an overdose.

Richards adds, “There’s some education that needs to happen in relation to how to, and when to do, injections, and what it’s about and why we would want to.”

People who are interested in more information about the take-home naloxone kits in Keewatin Yatthe or in the region’s training program can call 306-235-5822.