Abby Blackburn's harm reduction and naloxone kit training sessions started as a tool to help her friends in Edmonton's punk community stay safe from the potentially deadly effects of opioids.
But after seeing how widespread the crisis is across Alberta, Blackburn decided to hold training sessions for everyone who wants to learn.
"I realized, after seeing statistics online and everything else, that it's very far reaching," Blackburn told CBC's Radio Active. "The fentanyl crisis is pretty intense, so I just wanted to reach out to absolutely everybody."
Blackburn's training sessions show people how to use naloxone kits by using oranges to practise on. "The reason why we do the training with the oranges is so you're not intimidated with the idea of it," she said.
She also has speakers from Street Works and Moms Stop the Harm talk to those who attend.
Blackburn has trained about 150 people so far, and hopes the people she trains never have to go through the same experience she did when her friend overdosed in front of her.
Saving a life
"The first time that I saw somebody overdose in front of me was one of my close friends, and I hadn't even heard of naloxone," she said.
Her friend survived. Blackburn hopes her training program will make sure those who attend don't find themselves in similar situations without any knowledge about naloxone.
"It's a very terrifying experience when you see [an overdose]," she said. "Either it's a friend or a stranger, you have to teach yourself to calm down so you can get it done."
She said the training is for anyone, because anyone could be exposed to an overdose of opioids.
"There are some addicts out there that could be junkies on the street, or they could just be a casual drug user at parties, or they could be a doctor or lawyer," Blackburn said. "There are a lot of people that consume opiates. Sometimes they don't even know that they're doing it."
The training she has provided so far has been rewarding, and she said she'll keep organizing the events in the near future.
"This past January, when I had an event, I was told by someone that their life got saved by the naloxone training, so that was pretty rad," she said.
Blackburn's personal connection to opioid overdoses makes hearing that all the more rewarding. "It was affecting me on a personal level from the get-go, and I just wanted to continue helping people and saving people," she said.
Her next event on April 13 at the Aviary is for all age groups. More information on the event will be on her magazine's Facebook page.