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People dying from opioid overdose is an urgent public health crisis across Canada. Naloxone is a safe medication that reverses the signs of opioid overdose by blocking the effects of opioids in the brain.
Find out where naloxone is available in your community.
As a harm reduction strategy, The Works offers a take home naloxone program called Preventing Opioid Overdose in Toronto (POINT). POINT trains people who use opioids, their friends and family to respond to an opioid overdose using naloxone.
What is Naloxone?
Naloxone is a safe medication that reverses the signs of opioid overdose by blocking the effects of opioids in the brain. In Canada naloxone is available in the intramuscular (i.e., injectable) and intranasal (i.e., nasal spray) formulations. Naloxone reverses the effects of opioids including heroin, fentanyl, morphine, methadone, codeine, oxycodone and many others. Naloxone can be given by a spray into the nose or by an injection into the muscle. Naloxone can take between 2 – 5 minutes to work, can last in the body for up to 2 hours and cause withdrawal symptoms.
Why get POINT training with Naloxone?
Naloxone can be easily administered and is the most effective way to reverse an opioid overdose. Getting trained to use naloxone gives you the skills to help save someone’s life in an overdose situation. The Works provides POINT training and naloxone kits for FREE to opioid users, their friends, and family.
What to expect from training
POINT training takes less than 20 minutes and provides you with information on preventing, recognizing, and responding to overdose. Trained clients will receive a kit with two doses of naloxone and everything needed to administer the naloxone.
POINT is offered at The Works Monday to Friday and on the Works van in the evenings. Clients are encouraged to call The Works at 416-392-0520 to request a POINT training.
NOTE: The Works cannot provide naloxone kits for staff at community organizations. Naloxone for your first aid kit can be purchased through a local pharmacy.
The Ontario Naloxone Program, a program of the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care has designated public health units in Ontario as naloxone distribution leads for eligible community organizations to increase the distribution of naloxone to those most at risk of opioid overdose.
Local Public Health Unit Responsibilities
- ordering naloxone
- coordinating and supervising naloxone inventory
- training community organization staff on naloxone administration/eligibility criteria
- supporting policy development and supporting naloxone availability
Eligible organizations (as defined by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care)
- Community Health Centres (including Aboriginal Health Access Centres)
- AIDS Service Organizations
- Outreach organizations
- Withdrawal management programs
First, Let Us Know!
Prepare a Description of Need
- Does your agency work directly with populations at risk of opioid overdose?
- Does your agency reach a difficult to reach (priority population) where there is known drug using/opioid activity?
- Has your agency had requests for naloxone?
- Do you have naloxone “champions” ready to take the lead? Can your agency commit to and sustain naloxone distribution?
Obtain Organizational Approval to Be Involved
All Toronto naloxone distribution agencies are required to sign a service agreement with the City of Toronto (Public Health) in order to distribute naloxone. This means that the organization must have their executive director or someone with signing authority legally commit to the terms of a contract. Along with your Description of Need, interested agencies should also submit a letter of support from someone in a leadership position that will eventually sign the service agreement.
This step depends on the agreed upon timing and activities for initiating naloxone distribution at your agency. Before naloxone distribution starts at your agency, your agency and the Medical Officer of Health at Toronto Public Health must sign the service agreement; your agency must sign a Declaration of Non-Discrimination Policy and share a copy of its insurance certificate. Additionally, all staff who will be involved or impacted by naloxone distribution at your agency must receive training.
Complete Contract and Training
This means that a minimum of one staff member from each agency must receive in person training from the Works. The remaining staff must be trained using The Works train-the-trainer guide. This training will cover recognizing and responding to an overdose, naloxone administration, naloxone distribution, online data entry, storage and handling of naloxone and ordering protocols and will help ensure that your agency is ready to begin
With the support of The Works, your agency will then be ready to start naloxone distribution. Also, as an agency of The Works, you will become a part of the Community Naloxone Distribution Committee of agency representatives that communicate frequently and meet quarterly to discuss emerging issues in naloxone distribution and engage in knowledge transfer.
View our slide presentation, Naloxone Distribution for more in-depth information on the process and requirements for new agencies.
Agency Commitments – Summary
By signing a service agreement for naloxone distribution, an agency is committing to:
- provide naloxone kits to eligible clients
- ensure that at least one staff is trained by The Works and then all staff are trained using a train the trainer model in naloxone distribution
- ensure protocols (including naloxone storage, use, and distribution) are followed
- collect data and statistics