Participants learn how to administer naloxone. Eighty-eight people learned how to administer the overdose-reversing drug in Whitehorse on Aug. 30, 2019. (Julien Gignac/Yukon News)

Almost 100 Yukoners are better prepared to reverse overdoses

‘It’s everybody’s responsibility if a Yukoner dies from overdose’

Learning how to administer naloxone was only half of the benefit of a pop-up training session put on by Blood Ties Four Directions. It also helped Yukoners approach addiction from a different light, according to participant Bonita Hughes.

“It helps reduce stigma, taking people’s fear of addiction away,” said Hughes, one of 88 people to learn how to use the life-saving drug on Aug. 30, “because I think there’s a big stigma out there about addiction, and I think there’s a lot of blaming and shaming and I think we need to move away from that as a community because people with addictions, they’re our community members.”

Blood Ties organized the event to coincide with International Overdose Awareness Day. The goal was to have 100 people trained to administer naloxone during a two-hour period — five people for every death there’s been in the Yukon since the opioid crisis began in 2016. Twenty Yukoners have died since then.

Across Canada, more than 11,000 people have died because of opioids, said Jesse Whelen, a harm reduction counsellor at Blood Ties. He MC’d the event.

When someone overdoses, they’re at risk of asphyxiation. Naloxone reverses this, re-opening airways.

Using the kit is simple. It’s designed that way. It took less than 10 minutes to learn how to use.

Blood Ties executive director Patricia Bacon said all Canadians should be able to recognize the signs of an overdose, regardless if you have a kit on your person. This, she added, was central to the event, which was located just outside Horwoods Mall.

“That you can know when to call 911. I think, today, recognizing an overdose is as important as recognizing the signs of a heart attack,” said Bacon, adding that the life expectancy of Canadians has stalled since the opioid crisis began.

On a per capita basis, the Yukon is behind B.C. and Alberta when it comes to having the most opioid-related deaths in the country.

During her speech, Bacon said mitigating the crisis goes beyond political stripe — that it doesn’t matter who’s in power, the thinking behind mitigating the crisis shouldn’t change.

“I think it’s not necessarily on the government, right, it’s on community,” she told the News afterwards. “It’s everybody’s responsibility if a Yukoner dies from overdose.”

Asked what needs to happen to improve the situation, Bacon said that, among other things, there needs to be more subsidized housing, complete with people trained in substance use issues.

“We need sensible drug policy,” she said. “For example, decriminalizing simple possession of illicit drugs such as a heroin and cocaine. I’d rather be uncomfortable and have these laws that maybe make me feel uncomfortable or controversial than see another person die.”

Overdoses are wholly preventable, Bacon said, that’s the bottom-line.

“Every single time.

“There’s a lot of Yukoners who are quite woke and quite progressive about stuff like this and recognize that, you know, sometimes it’s the silent majority as opposed to the vocal minority.”

MP Larry Bagnell attended the event. During an unscripted part of his speech, he said, “From my perspective, if a person has an addiction, it’s an addiction issue, it’s a health issue, not a criminal issue and the person should not be deterred from going for treatment because of that, so anything we can do to help people go for the treatment they need will help eliminate some of these deaths.”

Blood Ties teaches people how to administer naloxone every week. You can learn how at its needle exchange from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday to Friday. The organization also has an outreach van that does the same thing from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m., Monday to Saturday.

Contact Julien Gignac at julien.gignac@yukon-news.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Naloxone is drawn into a syringe. Eighty-eight people learned how to administer the overdose-reversing drug in Whitehorse on Aug. 30, 2019. (Julien Gignac/Yukon News)

Just Posted

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Are they coming?

One of COVID-19’s big economic questions is whether it will prompt a… Continue reading

Yukon MP Larry Bagnell, along with Yukon health and education delegates, announce a new medical research initiative via a Zoom conference on Jan. 21. (Screen shot)
New medical research unit at Yukon University launched

The SPOR SUPPORT Unit will implement patient-first research practices

Yukon First Nation Education Directorate members Bill Bennett, community engagement coordinator and Mobile Therapeutic Unit team lead, left, and Katherine Alexander, director of policy and analytics, speak to the News about the Mobile Therapeutic Unit that will provide education and health support to students in the communities. (yfned.ca)
Mobile Therapeutic Unit will bring education, health support to Indigenous rural students

The mobile unit will begin travelling to communities in the coming weeks

Premier Sandy Silver, left, and Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley, speak during a live stream in Whitehorse on January 20, about the new swish and gargle COVID-19 tests. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Swish and spit COVID-19 test now available in Yukon

Vaccination efforts continue in Whitehorse and smaller communities in the territory

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police detachment in Faro photgraphed in 2016. Faro will receive a new RCMP detachment in 2022, replacing the decades-old building currently accommodating officers. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Faro RCMP tagged for new detachment

Faro will receive a new RCMP detachment in 2022, replacing the decades-old… Continue reading

In a Jan. 18 announcement, the Yukon government said the shingles vaccine is now being publicly funded for Yukoners between age 65 and 70, while the HPV vaccine program has been expanded to all Yukoners up to and including age 26. (1213rf.com)
Changes made to shingles, HPV vaccine programs

Pharmacists in the Yukon can now provide the shingles vaccine and the… Continue reading

Parking attendant Const. Ouellet puts a parking ticket on the windshield of a vehicle in downtown Whitehorse on Dec. 6, 2018. The City of Whitehorse is hoping to write of nearly $300,000 in outstanding fees, bylaw fines and court fees, $20,225 of which is attributed to parking fines issued to non-Yukon license plates. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
City of Whitehorse could write off nearly $300,000

The City of Whitehorse could write off $294,345 in outstanding fees, bylaw… Continue reading

Grants available to address gender-based violence

Organizations could receive up to $200,000

In this illustration, artist-journalist Charles Fripp reveals the human side of tragedy on the Stikine trail to the Klondike in 1898. A man chases his partner around the tent with an axe, while a third man follows, attempting to intervene. (The Daily Graphic/July 27, 1898)
History Hunter: Charles Fripp — gold rush artist

The Alaskan coastal town of Wrangell was ill-equipped for the tide of… Continue reading

A man walks passed the polling place sign at city hall in Whitehorse on Oct. 18, 2018. While Whitehorse Mayor Dan Curtis is now setting his sights on the upcoming territorial election, other members of council are still pondering their election plans for the coming year. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Councillors undecided on election plans

Municipal vote set for Oct. 21

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decicions made by Whitehorse city council this week.

A file photo of grizzly bear along the highway outside Dawson City. Yukon conservation officers euthanized a grizzly bear Jan. 15 that was originally sighted near Braeburn. (Alistair Maitland/Yukon News file)
Male grizzly euthanized near Braeburn

Yukon conservation officers have euthanized a grizzly bear that was originally sighted… Continue reading

Most Read