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A REAL LIFESAVER

- Naloxone Kits Now Available Through Health Unit to Help Reduce Risk of Opioid Overdoses -

To reduce the risk of overdoses due to fentanyl and other opioids in this area, a remedy is more readily available to help the situation in Northumberland County and Kawartha Lakes.

The Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit is the latest local agency to carry free Naloxone kits. The kits are now available through Health Unit offices in Port Hope (200 Rose Glen Road) and Lindsay (108 Angeline Street South), with trained public health staff being available to show people how to use the Naloxone kits in an overdose emergency. People who use opioids, as well as their family and friends, can also call the Health Unit toll-free at 1-866-888-4577 to access the Naloxone kits.

Naloxone is an emergency medicine that temporarily reverses the effects of an opioid overdose until the victim can get to hospital for treatment. Many local police and emergency responders already carry Naloxone. Free kits are also available to people who use opioids, as well as their family and friends, at participating pharmacies in Haliburton County, Northumberland County and Kawartha Lakes. To find exact locations for free Naloxone kits, visit the Ontario government website. Free Naloxone kits are also available by calling PARN toll-free at 1-800-361-2895.

“The Health Unit is pleased to be a new location for life-saving Naloxone kits in our community,” says Denise Smith, Substance Misuse Prevention and Harm Reduction Coordinator with the HKPR District Health Unit. “We encourage people to take advantage of the Naloxone kits, while learning what they can do to prevent needless opioid overdoses and deaths.”

With International Overdose Awareness Day being marked this Thursday (August 31), Smith says it’s timely to raise awareness about the risk of opioids. ‘Opioids’ are powerful, prescription painkillers taken for relief from certain medical conditions. The problem is that some opioids are highly addictive, leading to their misuse and resulting rise in opioid-related overdoses and deaths across Canada. A surge of some bootleg opioids – especially fentanyl and a much more powerful variation of it, carfentanil – is showing up in illicit patches, powders and pills, which is making the overdose problem even worse.

“We’re not immune to the risks of opioids and other drugs, as local police are seeing bootleg fentanyl turning up in illicit drugs seized here,” Smith notes. “But with greater community awareness and action, we can save lives by helping reduce opioid overdoses.”

To help address the opioid problem, the Health Unit suggests the following:

• Take advantage of free Naloxone kits available in the area.

• Immediately call 9-1-1 if someone is experiencing a drug overdose. In Canada, new federal legislation (Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act/Bill C-224) can offer some legal protection for people who call 9-1-1 in an overdose situation.

• Discourage people who use drugs from doing so alone.

• Encourage people not to mix drugs with other substances like alcohol, and remind people who use drugs to take smaller amounts of the substance – especially if they have not recently used it.

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

• Support people who are seeking treatment for their drug use by directing them to counselling programs like Fourcast Addiction Services (1-800-461-1909).

• Learn about a new regional drug strategy for Northumberland, Haliburton and Kawartha Lakes.

For media inquiries, contact:

Denise Smith, Substance Misuse Prevention and Harm Reduction Coordinator, HKPR District Health Unit, 1-866-888-4577, ext. 2265.

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