Editor, The Times:
Re: Ken Dalke’s letter of Oct. 12 (‘Time to stop spending money on Naloxone kits’):
We believe Dalke’s letter offers a narrow and very limited view of the use of Naloxone. As third-year nursing students at Thompson Rivers University and working in community mental health for the last six weeks, our eyes have been opened to the complexities of the addiction and overdose crisis that our society is facing. This crisis addresses lives of ordinary people and not only the economic factors related to drug use, addiction and medical services that Dalke emphasizes.
Yes, government is putting money into Naloxone kits. And by saving the lives of individuals, government is saving health-care costs as these individuals will no longer end up in the hospital. The kits are also saving lives of taxpayers (as substance users belong to all walks of life). Naloxone kits are not only saving lives, but also millions of dollars that can then be used to provide more doctors, critical-care facilities and costly drugs to treat illness and disease for all people.
Statistics have shown the overdose issue in B.C. more often affects young and successfully employed individuals, especially males working in the trades area. According to Fraser Health, they are not addicts, but first- or second-time users. For them, rehab/detox facilities are not a solution. There are many accidental overdoses.
Awareness of the opioid epidemic in our society will not make it go away, particularly if we continue to focus on blaming addicts for their life choices. What we have learned from research and our field experience in mental health is that individuals with substance-use issues are people with a story. Often they are using drugs to forget childhood traumas, to manage debilitating pain or to cope with an overwhelming mental illness. For many, drugs are a matter of life, not death.
As nursing students, we are taught the health of our patients is significantly affected by factors such as income, education, healthy child development and genetics. These factors play a major role in the opioid epidemic and, as a result, there is no simple solution. But what we do know is Naloxone kits are saving lives.
Think of Naloxone kits as saving the life of your child, your spouse or a friend. Wouldn’t you want to save their life? Doesn’t everyone’s life matter?
Emma Starko, Rochelle Smith, Melinda Smith, Koda-Sky Shoolman, Ashley Schubert, Heather Savage Alex Lubbe
Thompson Rivers University nursing students