BC Centre for Disease Control naloxone kit. (Darryl Dick/The Canadian Press)

Alberta minister says families claim naloxone encourages drug users to take more risk

When administered properly the life-saving medication can rapidly reverse the effects of an opioid overdose

An Alberta government minister says families affected by opioid abuse have told him that naloxone was encouraging their loved ones to take greater risks because they knew the life-saving drug could save them if they went too far.

Associate Minister of Health and Addictions Jason Luan made the comment Friday when speaking to reporters about concerns he’d heard during a roundtable discussion in Calgary to mark Saturday’s Overdose Awareness Day.

The Opposition NDP is demanding United Conservative Premier Jason Kenney fire Luan, with the party’s shadow critic calling the remark “disgraceful and offensive to those grieving the loss of a loved one.”

Last month, Luan deleted a tweet he’d made that questioned the science supporting supervised drug consumption sites, suggesting it was funded by the “multi-billion-dollar Pharma industry.”

This month, the province appointed a panel to examine the social and economic effects of safe consumption sites for drug users.

Luan tweeted Saturday that naloxone kits saves lives, and the government supports their availability.

“I met with many families adversely affected by addiction to hear their heart-wrenching stories and views. Some families expressed concern that the presence of naloxone was encouraging their loved ones to take greater risks, knowing that the life-saving drug was nearby,” Luan wrote.

“I was asked by media what I heard from families, and recited many examples, including this one. This concern was expressed by families and are their words and experience. This is not my opinion or the position of the government of Alberta.”

In his remarks to reporters on Friday, Luan said there was “a fine line” between wanting to help, and becoming “an enabler.”

A review of safe injection sites was a UCP election promise, but the Opposition has suggested the panel is rigged against the sites because they claim it’s stacked with advocates of an “abstinence-only” approach.

Heather Sweet, NDP Opposition critic for mental health and addictions, said Saturday that Luan’s latest comments about naloxone shows he lacks understanding of the opioid crisis.

“For the Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions to imply people are intentionally overdosing is disgraceful and offensive to those grieving the loss of a loved one today,” Sweet said in a news release.

“In just a few short months, it’s become clear Minister Luan lacks the understanding, sensitivity, and competence to do his job. Premier Kenney should fire this minister immediately.”

Alberta Health Services has made kits available at pharmacies and walk-in clinics free for anyone who wants one, without requiring identification or a prescription.

When administered properly the life-saving medication can rapidly reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.

Federal Health Minister Ginette Petipas Taylor announced in July that $22.3 million from the recent federal budget will be used to get naloxone kits and overdose training sessions to underserved communities so more Canadians can save lives.

ALSO READ: Grief, anger as family mourns Langley teen who died of apparent overdose

ALSO READ: B.C. and Yukon Association of Drug War survivors calls for heroin buyer clubs

The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

COVID-19 cases identified in Kelowna, after public gatherings

Those who were downtown or at the waterfront from June 25 to July 6 maybe have been exposed to COVID-19.

COSAR and Kelowna RCMP rescue couple lost at James Lake

The rescue occurred Saturday, July 11

QUIZ: Are you ready for a summer road trip?

How much do you really know about roads, motor vehicles and car culture? Take this quiz to find out.

Provincial COVID-19 data can now be used for B.C. to prepare for a second wave

In the past week, B.C. has seen a slight spike in daily test-positive case counts

Genetic detectives begin work to trace spread of COVID-19 in Canada

The kinds of genetic technology being used for this project did not exist when SARS hit Canada in 2003

Sports fishers protest Fraser River Chinook closures

Public Fishery Alliance wants hatchery fish open for harvest

COVID-19: Homeless to be relocated from temporary Okanagan shelter

Homeless shelters in Vernon have been combined into one site at the curling rink since April

Dozens of fish die at popular lake near Chase

A few natural phenomena are possible causes for their deaths.

Amber Alert for two Quebec girls cancelled after bodies found

Romy Carpentier, 6, Norah Carpentier, 11, and their father, Martin Carpentier, missing since Wednesday

B.C. man prepares to be first to receive double-hand transplant in Canada

After the surgery, transplant patients face a long recovery

Grocers appear before MPs to explain decision to cut pandemic pay

Executives from three of Canada’s largest grocery chains have defended their decision to end temporary wage increases

Bringing support to Indigenous students and communities, while fulfilling a dream

Mitacs is a nonprofit organization that operates research and training programs

Most Read