UBC Naloxone Party criticized by some for encouraging drug use
Training sessions for naloxone advertised as party to help engage students
Reported by Myra Dionne
A training session for administering naloxone, an opioid overdose prevention medication, was criticized by individuals who feel that harm reduction plans can lead to an increase of opioid use.
The Naloxone Party Two took place last Friday and was organized by UBC’s student society, AMS VICE, in partnership with Karmik, a harm reduction organization. It was the second session in the last four weeks, The first event reached maximum capacity so they decided to put on another event to accommodate those who missed the first one.
Encouraging heroine usage?
Alex Dauncey, a VICE coordinator, said “I’ve received a few messages through the Facebook that essentially said, if you give kids naloxone they’re going to start using heroine.”
“This idea that if you try and give students tools to use healthier, you’re actually kind of putting your stamp of approval their use which is obviously not what we’re doing,” Dauncey said. “The healthiest way to use drugs is to not use drugs…and that’s just a fact but the thing is that students know that already, they’re not dumb, we know this.”
For UBC students, accessing naloxone kits means having a one-on-one session with a nurse which can be intimidating, according to Marium Hamid, student services manager. She said the event creates a sense of community so people know they’re not battling the crisis alone and she believes giving people access to safer ways of doing substance has not empirically lead to higher rates of that being used.
Helps create community
“Our logo is ‘find your balance’, so that balance can look very different for a lot of different people,” Hamid said.
Students gathered in an auditorium where supplies were set up at individual stations for hands-on participation during the two-hour interactive presentation. Free naloxone kits were distributed at the end.
Jasmeen Dosanjh, a psychology student at UBC, said she attended because the event page looked inviting.
“Having an event like this, you can talk about it openly and there’s no stigma around it, well there is, but [students] feel like there’s less stigma,” Dosanjh said.
Munroe Craig, founder of Karmik, said naloxone’s a controversial topic, however, the goal of the training sessions is to engage conversation and original thinking.
“Naloxone is great but it’s only going to be the first step,” Craig said. “It is the first step to moving forward into a bigger understanding of what’s going on.”