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Opioids

Opioids are a family of drugs used to treat pain and are often referred to as prescription painkillers. Some familiar names include: Codeine, Morphine, Demerol, Percocet, Hydrocodone, Dilaudid, Fentanyl, etc.  They are most often prescribed as a pill, but are also available in a patch, as a liquid or injectable form.

Heroin is also an opioid. Opioids work by blocking the brain's sensation of pain. They can also affect the pleasure centre of the brain, causing a sense of euphoria, which is why they are sometimes misused to get high.  

Our situation

In this region (Northumberland County, Haliburton County and the City of Kawartha Lakes) in 2016, there were 74 visits to hospital emergency rooms, 23 hospitalizations, and 11 deaths due to opioids. While these statistics are not at epidemic levels like British Columbia, even one preventable overdose and death in our community is one too many!

What can we do?

Be non-judgmental - Drugs are part of our society. People from all incomes, jobs and walks of life use drugs for many reasons: adverse childhood experiences, curiosity, peer pressure, low self-esteem, to get a rush, or to deal with negative feelings/situations. Some people develop problematic substance use because they become addicted to legitimately-prescribed painkillers. In certain cases, substance misuse may occur leading to potential overdoses. The fact is that overdoses do not discriminate.

Prevention - Safely dispose of unused/expired prescription medications (like opioids) through pharmacies.

Overdose prevention tips-

Harm Reduction -  Naloxone is an emergency medicine that temporarily reverses the effects of an opioid overdose until the person can get hospital treatment.  Free naloxone kits are available to both current/past opioid users, as well as family, friends and others who can help someone at risk of an overdose. Naloxone availability continues to increase in our community.  Learn more on where you can get naloxone in your area.

Support - Help direct people who are seeking treatment by providing them with local resources.