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Naloxone kits now being handed out at local places of worship

Naloxone kits now being handed out at local places of worship

Naloxone kits are used to reverse an opioid overdose.
Naloxone kits are used to reverse an opioid overdose. Photo by Brian Thompson /Brian Thompson/The Expositor

A new initiative to hand out naloxone at places of worship last weekend across Windsor and Essex County proved hugely successful with 363 free kits distributed, according to the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit.

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Overall, seven places of worship — including churches, mosques and a synagogue — handed out the naloxone kits during 12 independent services. An additional 14 faith leaders shared information on opioids and naloxone with their congregations in preparation for future distribution as the health unit’s initiative is scheduled to continue at least into August.

The distribution of the kits is timely given the health unit’s latest opioid alert issued this week due to an elevated number of overdoses and deaths locally related to substance use in recent weeks.

For the weeks of June 6-12 and June 13-19, there were five suspected drug-related deaths each week, according to the health unit. For context, there were 61 opioid overdose-related deaths in all of 2021.

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“Opioid overdoses and deaths affect people from all religious and cultural communities,” said Dr. Shanker Nesathurai, the health unit’s acting medical officer of health. “It affects people of all income levels.

“It is important that all community members in Windsor-Essex understand the scope of this issue and what each of them can do as individuals to prevent overdose and death. Each of us can do something by obtaining a naloxone kit for our household.”

The Roman Catholic Diocese of London was happy to participate in the initiative after being contacted by the health unit, said church spokesman Matthew Clarke.

Four churches within the North Central Windsor Catholic Family of Parishes were the first to participate over the weekend with the Assumption family of churches next in line to offer free naloxone kits to anyone interested.

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“The health unit and medical officer of health reached out asking if we would help and we agreed,” Clarke said. “We plan to do a different family of churches in Windsor every weekend. It will also go out to communities in Essex County.

“We are happy to help. These kits are a solution that may be helpful in the hands of people who may need it when they least expect it. They can be used at home or anywhere you come across somebody who has overdosed and need to intervene.

“It’s a way to prevent unnecessary fatalities.”

The health unit is providing a representative at each service to distribute the naloxone kits and provide instructions after the service. At some worship services, a short video is also made available for viewing.

In addition to distribution at local places of worship this past and upcoming weekends, naloxone kits can be obtained for free at most local pharmacies and through a number of community agencies.

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