Naloxone kits accompany defibrillators in Ottawa churches

The Rev. Monique Stone organized the Naloxone workshop following the deaths of two young girls from opioid overdoses early this year in Ottawa. Photo: Art Babych
The Rev. Monique Stone organized the Naloxone workshop following the deaths of two young girls from opioid overdoses early this year in Ottawa. Photo: Art Babych
Published March 28, 2017

Churches across Canada have a role to play in the current opioid overdose crisis, says the Rev. Monique Stone, the rector of the three-point Parish of Huntley in the diocese of Ottawa.

Government organizations and boards of education often face barriers when organizing a workshop, said Stone in an Anglican Journal interview March 8. “We [churches] just have to open up our parish halls, promote something and make people recognize that the church is involved and concerned and actively engaged in whatever is going on in the life of people in communities -not members of our parish-but people in communities.”

It was following the deaths of two young girls from opioid overdoses early this year that Stone, who has a 16-year-old daughter, organized a Naloxone workshop at St. Thomas the Apostle Anglican Church on February 23 for 20 clergy, including diocesan Bishop John Chapman. Naloxone is used to temporarily block the effects of opioid overdoses.

After the clergy workshop, Stone announced that a Naloxone workshop would be held at St. James, Carp, in her home parish, on March 22. She invited people from the wider community to attend. It was booked to capacity within 72 hours, with dozens of others left on the waiting list.

One of the girls who died had connections to young people in the Carp area of Ottawa, said Stone. “So, this was a kind of a personal, pastoral emergency in our community and, in recognizing the challenges that were happening in the community, I thought, ‘Why don’t we try and do a workshop?’ ”

Most of the 65 workshop registrants at the church in Carp were adults, but children as young as 10 or 11 and several teenagers also attended.

They listened intently and many, including young people, asked questions of the main speaker, Ottawa pharmacist Mark Barnes, during his talk about drug overdosing and the use of Naloxone.

In his slide-screen presentation, Barnes described the signs of an opiate overdose, which include slow or no breathing at all. “What happens in an overdose is that it takes between three and five minutes to die,” he said. “Three to five minutes from the hit.”

Naloxone blocks the effects of the opiate for a small amount of time to allow an overdosed person to breathe, said Barnes, owner of Respect Rx Pharmasave and a member of the city of Ottawa’s overdose task force. If there is one thing people should learn from the workshop, it is to understand that, “It is absolutely imperative that you call 911,” he said. “It [Naloxone] take two to four minutes for it to work. It is safe-super-safe.”

At the end of the talk, Stone distributed the Naloxone kits to those who had registered for the workshop.

Since the clergy gathering, at least five other Anglican churches in the diocese have either held or were planning similar workshops. The largest gathering to date was March 9 at St. James Anglican Church Hall in Carleton Place, near Ottawa. It drew 150 people and saw the distribution of 175 take-home Naloxone kits. The kits are available at most pharmacies free of charge.

Many churches have defibrillators, but Stone, who is also a volunteer at the local high school, thinks every parish should also have a Naloxone kit. “From that clergy training, what happened immediately is we have 20 churches in our diocese that have a Naloxone kit, which is amazing.”

“We might come in contact with vulnerable people,” she said. “I’m constantly in contact with youth that may be considering using recreational drugs in some form that may have opiate content.”

Stone has also offered to accompany youth that are apprehensive about getting a Naloxone kit from the pharmacy. “They can come to see me and I will walk with them to the pharmacy, and I will get a new Naloxone kit for them,” she said. “We are a non-judgmental sanctuary for anyone who needs to get a Naloxone kit.”


  • Art Babych

    Art is the former editor of Crosstalk, the newspaper of the Anglican diocese of Ottawa.

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