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REDUCING IMPACT OF LOCAL ADDICTIONS

- Shining a Light on Local Harm Reduction Efforts During National Addictions Awareness Week -

During the week set aside to raise awareness about addictions, the local Health Unit says reducing the negative effects of drug use needs to be a year-round effort.

National Addictions Awareness Week (November 15-21) is a timely reminder that addictions and substance misuse are a serious public health issue that need constant vigilance, says Leslie McLaughlin, a Public Health Nurse with the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit. She points to Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse statistics that support her point. Over the course of a year, youth 15 to 24 years of age report having the highest use of illicit substances compared to older Canadians. Young people in this age range are also five times more likely than adults 25 years and older to report harm because of drug use.

“Addiction is a serious problem that, left unchecked, can lead to the misuse of drugs and other substances in our community,” McLaughlin says. “With many substances being highly addictive and potentially dangerous, it’s in all our interests to learn more about substance abuse prevention, to talk about treatment and recovery, and to bring forward solutions for change.”

Within its area, the Health Unit works with other community partners to address substance misuse and addictions. These efforts include:

• Throughout its area, distributing sterile needles, syringes and other materials for safer injection and inhalation. In collaboration with community partners, the Needle Exchange Program serves as a safe environment to exchange used drug equipment in order to reduce the spread of bloodborne infections.

• In City of Kawartha Lakes and Haliburton County, promoting the safe, effective and responsible use of fentanyl through the Patch 4 Patch program. Fentanyl is a powerful painkiller prescribed by doctors that is increasingly being misused. In collaboration with physicians, pharmacists and patients, the Patch 4 Patch program works as a ‘one in and one out’ model in which patients are asked to return used fentanyl patches to the pharmacy before they are able to receive more patches.

• In Northumberland County, distributing naloxone kits in the area starting in early 2016 to reduce overdose deaths. Naloxone temporarily reverses the effects of an opioid overdose, giving time for Emergency Medical Services (EMS) personnel to respond and potentially save a person from dying of a drug overdose. The Naloxone Distribution Program is a partnership with the Oshawa Community Health Centre, PARN – Your AIDS Resource Network, the Health Unit, local police, EMS, and other health/social service providers.

• Creating a region-wide drug strategy with community partners across City of Kawartha Lakes, Haliburton County and Northumberland County to address and coordinate initiatives dealing with harm reduction and substance misuse.

“Preventing addictions and substance abuse pays off in so many ways,” McLaughlin says. “Not only does it reduce costs for an already strained health and treatment system, most importantly it can help to save lives.”

If you want more information about local supports and programs, call the Health Unit toll-free at 1-866-888-4577.

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For media inquiries, contact:

In Haliburton County/City of Kawartha Lakes: Leslie McLaughlin, Public Health Nurse, HKPR District Health Unit, (705) 324-3569, or 1-866-888-4577.

In Northumberland County: Shawn Woods, Manager of Communicable Disease Control, Epidemiology and Evaluation, HKPR District Health Unit, (905) 885-9100.

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