McGill student gives free workshops for opioid antidote naloxone

Richard Davy wants you to learn how to administer naloxone, an opioid overdose antidote. You, me, everyone.

The first-year McGill social work undergrad is offering free clinics on how to use a naloxone kit, Wednesday at noon and next Friday at 1:30 p.m. at the McGill Social Work Student Association.

Places are filling up fast, and if you doubt that knowing how to administer a naloxone injection is something you need to have in your back pocket (let alone the kit itself), Davy begs you to reconsider.

“I would encourage (people) to question their doubt,” he said. “We all live in the greater Montreal area. According to recent government statistics, there are about 4,000 homeless people on the streets. They’re a vulnerable population, and there is unfortunately a fair amount of overuse of drugs. If you’re a Montrealer walking on the street, you might see this.

“Secondly, so many people are taking opioids now. In 2013, 72 per cent of youth between the ages of 14 to 25 took an opioid from their caregiver’s supply to use recreationally, according to the National Advisory Committee on Prescription Drug Misuse. We all have opioids in our homes. It’s very easy to fall into an overdose if you’re not careful.”

Originally from England, Davy has lived in Montreal for over a decade. He was a successful businessman before a nervous breakdown in 2008 made him question his purpose in life.

“I found myself in psychotherapy,” he said. “I really woke up to another part of me that had been untapped for so long, and repressed in business — my desire to connect and help people.”

Davy felt that desire recently while doing outreach work with the city’s homeless population. He had learned about the proliferation of opioids misuse among the homeless, but to see the effects in person got him wondering what he could do.

Then a couple of weeks ago, he attended a conference by the Canadian Mental Health Association that included a talk on naloxone, and training on how to administer it.

“After I left that training session, I resolved to do something about it, and get a kit for myself,” Davy said. “I spoke to a couple of colleagues and said we should have one of these with us on the street.”

"I'll explain what to do if you find yourself with someone you believe is overdosing, what to look for, how to check," says Richard Davy, a McGill social work undergrad who is offering free clinics on how to use a naloxone kit.

“I’ll explain what to do if you find yourself with someone you believe is overdosing, what to look for, how to check,” says Richard Davy, a McGill social work undergrad who is offering free clinics on how to use a naloxone kit.

He posted a message within his social work group, and began hearing back from people in the wider social work community, then the wider McGill community; now word is spreading on social media.

“It has ballooned,” Davy said. “From our little cohort to right now over 70 confirmed attendees (for the information sessions) and nearly 250 interested.”

He is also in talks with a representative from Kahnawake to give a naloxone workshop at the Mohawk reserve in the near future.

Workshop participants will learn not just how to physically administer naloxone, but what to expect should they find themselves in such a situation.

“I’ll explain what to do if you find yourself with someone you believe is overdosing, what to look for, how to check,” he said. “First, call 911. Then stimulate the sternum, and shake them to see if they’re responsive. Open the airway and ventilate, give them mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, as they’re most likely breathing poorly.”

Davy will demonstrate how to perform the injection, and what to do afterwards, when the person wakes up.

“They won’t know what’s happening, necessarily or where they are,” he said, “and they are immediately in withdrawal because you’ve just pushed the opioids off their receptors, so they can become anxious and potentially aggressive. I talk about how to deal with those sorts of things.”

Each participant will leave the workshop with their own naloxone kit, free of charge. And if you’re wondering who’s paying for those kits, it’s the Quebec government.

“It’s important to know, these kits are free to everybody in Quebec,” Davy said. “Just go to the pharmacy, no prescription required. Anybody over 14 can get one.”

Each kit contains two doses of naloxone, and people are entitled to eight doses, or four kits, per day.

Davy believes that every first aid kit should include a naloxone kit. And if word about his clinics continues to spread, he’s happy to keep showing people how to use it.

“I’m prepared for that,” he said. I’m one of those people who when I get a bit between my teeth, I go for it. So if there is interest in this, if people want to learn and understand, I’m there.”

For more information on Richard Davy’s naloxone training sessions, search for “Naloxone Training for Social Workers” on Facebook.

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