Free trial of life-saving drug under way

Anglicare Tasmania is participating in an Australia-first, free trial of the opiate overdose reversal drug Naloxone.

For the past five years, an average of more than one Tasmanian has lost their life each week to drug overdose. They come from all walks of life and the ripple effects for family, friends and communities are huge.

Monday 31 August is International Overdose Awareness Day. The aim of the day is to reduce the stigma associated with drug overdose, and increase awareness about the risks surrounding the use of pharmaceutical medicines, as well as illicit drugs.

It’s also the perfect time to spread the word to Tasmanians about the life-saving benefits of the opiate overdose reversal drug called Naloxone.

Anglicare Tasmania is participating in an Australia-first, free trial of the drug. Our Needle and Syringe Program facilities in Hobart and Glenorchy now stock Naloxone in the form of a nasal spray under its brand name, Nyxoid.

The sprays are available free of charge to people who are at risk of overdose from drugs in the opioid family (including prescription drugs) or to people in their support networks.

“We have been excited about the potential of Naloxone for some time and jumped at the chance to participate in this very important trial,“ says NSP Team Leader Emily Ebdon.

“Naloxone acts in the same way as asthma puffers and epi-pens do,” Emily says. “It’s very easy to administer, and only takes a few minutes to work. Naloxone will revive someone from an opiate overdose or at the very least, give the ambulance more time to respond to a person experiencing an overdose.  It’s important to note that it’s still very important to call an ambulance, and to remember that this can be done without involving the police.”

A day of commemoration

Anglicare is joining with other support organisations to mark International Overdose Awareness Day with several commemorative activities including the Japanese art of Senbazuru, which involves folding 1,000 paper cranes.

Community members joined with Anglicare staff in Devonport for a crane-making workshop today to remember their loved ones and together, talk through the need for a community free of the impacts of overdose.

Addictions and Mental Health Practitioner Sean Robinson says the Devonport team always looks forward to this annual event.

“Our cranes will be photographed to become part of a larger digital artwork put together as a moving memorial by our colleagues at the Alcohol, Tobacco and other Drugs Council (ATDC),” he says.

The southern NSPs have been holding memorial activities for the last nine years to reduce stigma and raise awareness about overdose.

Emily Ebdon says her team folds origami hearts and leaves them on the counters for clients to either take with them or write on them the name of someone they have lost. The hearts are then turned into a display.

“We have gathered hundreds of these hearts over the years,” says Emily. “We started this activity because sadly, when a person dies of drug overdose, often their friends, family and associates are not welcome at their funerals. Our NSPs have become a place where the drug-using community can mourn their friends and loved ones openly and safely. We often know the person who has died so we can provide compassion and support.

“We also often attend funerals so that we can pay our respects, and this is always appreciated by clients who are friends of the person who has died,” said Emily.

The garden at the Glenorchy NSP features a special rose that has become a beautiful, living memorial. The rose was planted some 15 years ago by the parents of a person who died of a drug overdose.

Like to know more?

Anglicare’s NSP team welcome enquiries from existing and new clients about Naloxone.

You can simply drop in to one of our southern offices, located at 18 Watchorn in the Hobart CBD and 436 Main Road Glenorchy.  You don’t need an appointment or a doctor’s prescription for Naloxone.

It’s hoped that this service will be expanded to our Launceston and Burnie offices in the near future.

You can contact us via the online form below or by telephoning 1800 243 242.

Our staff can provide information on Anglicare’s broader alcohol and drug treatment program (ADATS) and refer people to other Anglicare services (e.g.g housing, mental health and financial counselling) on request.

The Alcohol and Drug Foundation has a fact sheet about the use of Naloxone and overdose prevention resources

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