Naloxone kits to be made available in Windsor places of worship

·2 min read
Naloxone kits will now be made available at some places of worship in Windsor.  (Chris Ensing/CBC - image credit)
Naloxone kits will now be made available at some places of worship in Windsor. (Chris Ensing/CBC - image credit)

In an effort to combat the growing number of drug overdoses in the community, local places of worship will be distributing life-saving naloxone kits, after partnering with the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit (WECHU).

The drug, given by nasal spray, can temporarily reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.

The  health unit and some local faith leaders announced the partnership Monday in a media briefing, sharing that in the week of June 6, five people lost their lives to opioid-related overdoses in Windsor-Essex.

"Opioid-related overdoses and opioid-related deaths affect people of all walks of life," said Dr. Shanker Nesathurai, acting medical officer of health for the region.

"One thing we can do is to speak about it, acknowledge it's a problem, and the second thing we can do is to give naloxone or have naloxone kits at home."

Starting this week, religious leaders will be putting up posters in their institution centres and making nalaoxone kits available for people to take home.

Imam Mohamed of the Windsor Islamic Association, Reverend George Bozanich of Emmanuel United Church, Rabbi Sholom Galperin of Chabad Jewish Centre of Windsor and Bishop Ronald Fabbro of the London Diocese have all partnered with the health unit on the initiative.

Leaders shared Monday that in each of their respective religions, helping members of their community as they struggle with addiction is an important step to take. Each leader also shared that the stigma around addiction had no place in faith.

"If we are not acting and working together the problem will affect all of us, we cannot say our community are immune, we are not immune of this we are part of a society," said Imam Mohamed.

Mohamed said he will also be putting up posters to inform those in his community of the issues, adding that prevention is also important. The Imam said he hopes starting more conversations within the community may help people overcome their addiction.

Rabbi Galperin spoke about the importance within the Jewish community to help each other heal. He said each person has their time of need and deserve to be helped and supported by the community no matter what they are going through.

All leaders acknowledged how stigma and judgment has no place in caring for those who may use drugs.

The health unit has ordered about 1,000 extra naloxone kits from Ontario's Ministry of Health at no extra cost to WECHU.

WECHU said they encourage residents to pick up their own kits at local pharmacies free of charge.

Advocates and officials in the region have called for more access to the life-saving kits, as opioid overdoses have spiked amid the pandemic.

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