In this new bulletin feature, the Rotary Magazine Highlight, I will discuss one of the top stories from the Rotary Magazine every month. The goal of this monthly feature is to highlight the amazing work that Rotarians are doing in other clubs and countries and to, perhaps, inspire new projects in our club and community. In its inaugural addition, I will highlight the story, 'First Response', by Elizabeth Hewitt, on Rotary responses to the Opioid drug crisis. To read the full article, in its original form, please consult your January magazine starting on page 24. 
Since 2016, the opioid crisis has led to the deaths of 40,642 Canadians. In 2023 alone, over 3,970 Canadians passed away from opioid toxicity. That's roughly 22 deaths per day. Much of this crisis has been attributed to the overprescription of powerful painkillers such as OxyContin as well as the increased illegal drug supply. Synthetic opioids, such as illicit fentanyl can be 50 times more potent than prescribed painkillers. In the United States, over 84% of adolescent overdoes deaths involved illicit fentanyl. 
 
A key short-term tool critical to stopping overdose deaths is Naloxone. Naloxone is a drug that "reverses overdoses by binding to opioid receptors in the brain, blocking the opioids in the bloodstream from having an effect." People who receive a does of naloxone during an overdose are 11 times more likely to survive. 
 
Despite the benefits of naloxone, there are some issues around availability and knowledge of how to use it. In the United States, the Rotary Action Group for Addiction Prevention, North American Chapter, has taken up this call. Through Project Smart, Rotarians in clubs across the US have developed training programs for schools, community organizations, and other Rotarians. The second component of this program involves distributing "medication disposal kits to households, to destroy old prescriptions before they're misused." This also involves connecting people with treatment options to help individuals with opioid use disorder. 
 
The teaching initiative, led by the Rotarian Larry Kenemore, has taught over 1,000 people in a dozen states how to use naloxone. Individuals who attend the sessions are given naloxone kits and asked to report when they use them so the action group can track their impact. A recent attendee of the program, a police officer from Arkansas, whose department was trained through the project, said that he used naloxone twice to revive a pregnant woman and a teenager. 
 
Given the pervasiveness of this issue and the effect that the opioid crisis is having on our community,  it is inspiring to see a Rotary Action Group taking the lead on the education and distribution of naloxone in the United States. It would be wonderful to see a similar initiative in our region! 
 
To read more from the story, please consult your January Rotary Magazine. 
 
Original Story by Elizabeth Hewitt. 
Edited and condensed for RCoG Bulletin by Aidan Harris.