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Health and wellness

SFU student creates youth-led overdose education and naloxone training during B.C.’s overdose crisis

April 29, 2021

By Sharon Mah

Faculty of Health Sciences student Chloe Goodison is making the most of her opportunities at SFU despite a challenging and unusual first year.

She secured an entrance scholarship last fall and was named a grand prize winner in the 2020-21 SFU Student-Community Engagement Competition. Since then, she’s been pouring her energies into her studies and into fully realizing her prize-winning passion project, NaloxHome.

NaloxHome is a youth-run team focusing on providing overdose education and naloxone training to secondary students in the Tri-Cities area (Coquitlam, Port Moody, and Port Coquitlam). Goodison developed the concept for this project when she realized there wasn’t naloxone training available for youth in her community.

Goodison identified this gap in a very dramatic and personal way two years ago when a young woman collapsed onto her lap during a SkyTrain ride.

“It was bothersome to me that I was Grade 11 going into Grade 12 and I had no idea what was happening,” says Goodison. She found out days after the incident that the young woman – about the same age as Goodison – had overdosed. “Nobody on the train [that evening] knew how to treat her. Nobody had naloxone, and nobody knew the signs and symptoms of an overdose.”

The SkyTrain incident spurred Goodison to seek out naloxone training. Shortly after completing her training and receiving her kit, she began volunteering for the Tri-Cities Overdose Community Action Team (TCCAT), a collaboration of local health-centered community organizations that address the overdose crisis through education initiatives, art projects, and social media outreach. Through her work with TCCAT, Goodison developed strong relationships with local nurses, social workers, school superintendents, and community health coordinators at Fraser Health. She worked with this network to push NaloxHome off the page and into the real world.

Goodison is currently recruiting 10 volunteers, ages 18 to 25, in the community to form the NaloxHome team. Once her team is in place, she will begin training the group to identify the signs of overdose, order and use a naloxone kit, and understand the applications of B.C.’s Good Samaritan Act in overdose interventions. When the team completes its training, Goodison will deploy members into (virtual) classrooms in School District 43 (SD43) to present this information to Grade 10 to 12 students, using health information and messaging developed by Fraser Health to facilitate evidence-based education. Goodison has already fielded several requests from SD43 teachers hoping to include this unit as part of Planning 10, physical education and social studies.

When asked about what’s next for her once NaloxHome is fully operational, Goodison notes that she plans to continue her Health Sciences studies.

“I love the Faculty of Health Science’s ‘cell to society’ approach. My passions lie in the society side of health: community health, [health] policy, public engagement, and community development.”

If there’s an opportunity, she may consider applying to do undergraduate research as well.

“Addiction and the psychology of addiction are very interesting to me, how some people are wired differently. You hear about people who are able to avoid substances or use substances casually while others are reliant on substances.”

Goodison’s passion for overdose prevention through community health education isn’t her only goal. She’s committed to doing what she can to help end B.C.’s overdose pandemic, now entering its fifth year.  

“There's no denying that overdose hits everyone in B.C. very hard – I think most of us can name people who we know through friends or family who have died of an overdose. There's such a stigma around substance use and people who use substances. It's unfortunate because I feel like if we discussed people who are in a relationship with substances as people and not as frowned upon members of society, the overdose epidemic would have a completely different outlook.”