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)

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

Vaccinations are set to resume in the small community of Tatchet, according to Lake Babine Nation’s Deputy Chief. (Black Press Media file photo)
Lake Babine Nation vaccine rollout resumes after a short pause

A COVID positive test within the care team had put the vaccinations on hold

Cheslatta Chief Corrina Leween received one of the COVID-19 vaccines on the Southside, on Wednesday, Jan. 13. (Submitted/Lakes District News)
COVID-19 vaccination begins in Burns Lake

Senior population, health care workers and First Nations among the first to get the vaccine

Sasquatch sighting. (Omineca Ski Club photo/Lakes District News)
Sasquatch on the loose at Omineca Ski Club

Head out to the trails to see if you can spot it; a tongue-in-cheek response from the club President

Two books in particular became quite popular at the start of the pandemic — Soap and Water Common Sense, The definitive guide to viruses’ bacteria, parasites, and disease and The Great Influenza, The story of the deadliest pandemic in history. (Priyanka Ketkar photo/Lakes District News)
Burns Lake Public Library lent 20,916 books in 2020

Gained 67 new patrons throughout the year

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry prepares a daily update on the coronavirus pandemic, April 21, 2020. (B.C. Government)
B.C. adjusts COVID-19 vaccine rollout for delivery slowdown

Daily cases decline over weekend, 31 more deaths

A female prisoner sent Langford police officers a thank-you card after she spent days in their custody. (Twitter/West Shore RCMP)
Woman gives Victoria-area jail 4.5-star review in handwritten card to police after arrest

‘We don’t often get thank you cards from people who stay with us, but this was sure nice to see’: RCMP

An elk got his antlers caught up in a zip line in Youbou over the weekend. (Conservation Officer Service Photo)
Elk rescued from zip line in Youbou on Vancouver Island

Officials urge people to manage items on their property that can hurt animals

A Trail man has a lucky tin for a keepsake after it saved him from a stabbing last week. File photo
Small tin in Kootenay man’s jacket pocket saved him from stabbing: RCMP

The man was uninjured thanks to a tin in his jacket

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation Chantel Moore, 26, was fatally shot by a police officer during a wellness check in the early morning of June 4, 2020, in Edmundston, N.B. (Facebook)
Frustrated family denied access to B.C. Indigenous woman’s police shooting report

Independent investigation into B.C. woman’s fatal shooting in New Brunswick filed to Crown

Delta Police Constable Jason Martens and Dezi, a nine-year-old German Shepherd that recently retired after 10 years with Delta Police. (Photo submitted)
Dezi, a Delta police dog, retires on a high note after decade of service

Nine-year-old German Shepherd now fights over toys instead of chasing down bad guys

Nurses collect samples from a patient in a COVID suspect room in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at St. Paul’s hospital in downtown Vancouver, Tuesday, April 21, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
5 British Columbians under 20 years old battled COVID-19 in ICU in recent weeks

Overall hospitalizations have fallen but young people battling the virus in hospital has increased

Canada released proposed regulations Jan. 2 for the fisheries minister to maintain Canada’s major fish stocks at sustainable levels and recover those at risk. (File photo)
New laws would cement DFO accountability to depleted fish stocks

Three B.C. salmon stocks first in line for priority attention under proposed regulations

Trees destroyed a Shoreacres home during a wind storm Jan. 13, 2021. Photo: Submitted
Kootenay woman flees just before tree crushes house

Pamala DeRosa is thankful to be alive

Most Read