Nova Scotia has become the first Maritime province to stock opioid-antidote kits.

After three years of work Direction 180, a Halifax north-end methadone clinic received the kits, including the antidote Naloxone.

“I call it a bully,” says executive director Cindy MacIssac. “Basically it goes in and boots the opiate off the neo-receptor and it says ‘boom, you’re gone’ and basically the person is in immediate withdrawal.”

Naloxone will only work on opioid overdosing, which includes drugs such as heroin, fentanyl and morphine.

Instead of calling an ambulance and waiting for help, the Naloxone works almost instantly after being injected into a muscle of the person overdosing.

“If an individual who is opiate-naïve, which means they’re not used to having opioids in their body on an ongoing basis, is exposed to a significant dose of rapidly-acting opioid in the intravenous form, they can die within minutes,” says Dr. David Saunders. 

Direction 180 held its first training session today; only people who have been trained are allowed access to the kits.

There are 300 kits available in Halifax and another 300 in Cape Breton.

Currently, it’s a pilot project that runs until October, thanks to $119,000 in provincial funding from the Nova Scotia Department of Health.

Direction 180 will be conducting an evaluation of the project to demonstrate its effectiveness, with hopes of securing additional provincial funding after the pilot stage is complete.

"The more people that’ll be able to train, the more people will be educated and save a friend’s life,” says Joe Clair, a client of Direction 180. “You just never know.”