In an effort to combat a growing number of drug overdoses in the community, local places of worship will distribute life-saving naloxone kits, in partnership 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 spoke Monday at a media briefing. They said that the week of June 6, five people lost their lives to opioid-related overdoses in the southwestern Ontario region.
“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 put up posters in their institution centers and make naloxone kits available for people to take home.
Imam Mohamed of the Windsor Islamic Association, Rev. George Bozanich of Emmanuel United Church, Rabbi Sholom Galperin of Chabad Jewish Center of Windsor and Bishop Ronald Fabbro of the London Diocese have all partnered with the health unit.
Leaders shared Monday that in each of their respective religions, helping members of their community as they struggle with addiction is an important step. 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 Mohamed.
Mohamed said he will also put up posters to inform those in his community of the issues, adding that prevention is important. The Imam said he hopes starting more conversations within the community may help people overcome their addiction.
Extra kits ordered
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 have 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 encourages residents to pick up their own kits at local pharmacies, at no cost.
Advocates and officials in the region have called for more access to the lifesaving kits, as opioid overdoses have spiked amid the pandemic.