A screenshot from the Nal-Pal app shows what it would look like if a person in distress called for help. (File contributed/Derek Jacoby)

B.C. university to launch app to link drug users with Naloxone kits

Researchers have spent the last year developing the Nal-Pal app

An app designed to connect drug users with naloxone kits is set to launch in January.

The Nal-Pal App, designed by University of Victoria students under the guidance of researcher Derek Jacoby, received a $15,000 grant from the South Island Prosperity Project in March 2018, and since then the developers have been researching and designing.

Part of the research included speaking with intravenous drug users in partnership with AIDS Vancouver Island about what they thought.

“It was a good confirmation that this would address part of the problem, but we learned quite a lot,” Jacoby said.

ALSO READ: Victoria woman shares her painful experience with opioid addiction

From the interviews, the team realized that the largest target audience probably wasn’t drug users living on the streets, since they’re usually surrounded with other users with naloxone kits or near downtown resources.

Instead, the target audience would be users who make up the majority of deaths from opioid overdoses — suburban people using drugs on their own.

“This could allow the app to work in a preventative way,” Jacoby said. “For example, if someone was about to use they could send out a message asking for someone to check in on them in a few minutes.”

A screenshot from the Nal-Pal app shows what it would look like if a person in distress called for help. (File contributed/Derek Jacoby)

ALSO READ: Youngest opioid overdose victim in B.C. last year was 10 years old

Another thing the research revealed was that most people don’t want a help message sent out to a wide audience, as the app had originally been designed to do.

“Often somebody is going to be evicted if emergency services shows up at their door,” Jacoby said. “People suggested if messages could be sent to a specific list of people, like their neighbour, instead.”

ALSO READ: Reducing harm with ‘I carry naloxone’ buttons

The app is set to have both a customized option to send a help message to certain people, or a wider distress call that will alert anyone else with the app that a naloxone kit is needed.

A screenshot from the Nal-Pal app shows what it would look like if a person in distress called for help. (File contributed/Derek Jacoby)

Jacoby also noted that while most people with a drug dependency have cell phones, most don’t have access to data plans, so the app has been developed to rely on text messages that can link to maps. If the person has a data plan, it will also send to the web server.

An Android version of the app will launch in January and be tested out by a group at AIDS Vancouver Island; test scenarios and drills will also be run to test for potential issues, such as multiple calls at once. An iOS version of the app is likely to be launched in June.

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com


Send a Tweet: @NicoleCrescenzi

Like us on Facebook  

opioid crisisUVic

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

‘An extra $220 every 90 days’: B.C. patients pay more dispensing fees due to prescription limits

Kelowna woman says it’s outrageous to charge for refills every 30 days

Skeena Bulkley Valley MP calling for halt on sport fishing licenses to out-of-province fishers

Bachrach and Courtenay-Alberni MP Gord Johns co-signed the letter to the Minister of Fisheries

Bella Coola Heli Sports closed, says no confirmed cases of COVID-19 reported in their operation

The company has committed to informing the community if a case is reported

COVID-19 case confirmed at Subway restaurant in Cache Creek

Customers who visited the site from March 25 to 27 are asked to self-isolate

COVID-19: Community working to address threat; road closures not supported by province

MLA Jennifer Rice says people should be staying home and non-essential travel is not acceptable

‘Hold our line’: 29 new cases of COVID-19 announced in B.C.

Saturday’s number of new cases marks the lowest in weeks.

Two inmates found positive for COVID-19 at federal prison in B.C.; other tests pending

15 staff self-isolating waiting results, refusal to work notice sent, says correctional officer

Critic, workers’ group ‘disappointed’ Trudeau chose Amazon to distribute PPE

Amazon Canada said in an email to The Canadian Press that it is working with Canada Post, Purolator

How to cope with your mental health during a global pandemic

Becca Shears, clinical counsellor in Vanderhoof speaks about ways to deal with stress and anxiety during this time.

Full World COVID-19 update: National Guard collect ventilators in New York; Spain, Italy improve

Comprehensive coronavirus update with news from around the world.

Two people fined after B.C. police spot online ads re-selling 5,000 surgical, N95 masks

Police confiscated the masks, being sold at inflated prices, and now working with Fraser Health

Sex workers face new risks during COVID-19 pandemic

‘Desperation has kicked in’ for vulnerable, undocumented workers unable to access help

Unclear if Cowichan couple refusing to self-isolate will face penalty

No fines or charges have been laid to date, including Cowichan couple who won’t self isolate

Most Read