Health Unit Issues Region-Wide Opioid Overdose Alert
Health Unit Issues Region Wide Opioid Overdose Alert After Multiple Incidents In Recent Days
PORT HOPE, ON (February 28, 2022) – The Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit, in consultation with local police services and Emergency Medical Services, is issuing an Opioid Overdose Alert for the entire HKPR jurisdiction.
This is based on recent reports of multiple overdoses and at least four suspected overdose deaths in the region, especially in the two largest urban areas – Lindsay and Cobourg – of the Health Unit region. Contributing factors for these local overdoses include people using alone or a potentially contaminated or poisoned drug supply that is leading to more severe overdose reactions. The Health Unit’s overdose alert comes in the wake of a similar drug poisoning alert being issued by Peterborough Public Health.
“Overdoses know no boundaries, and that’s why we are issuing this alert to make community partners and local residents aware of the risks and help prevent further harm in our communities,” says Catherine MacDonald, a Registered Nurse and Substances and Harm Reduction Coordinator with the HKPR District Health Unit. “Let’s remember these aren’t just statistics. Real lives are at stake, since people who use drugs are fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, friends and loved ones.”
The Health Unit reminds anyone who uses drugs (or those who know someone who does) to follow these safety tips:
- Test a small amount of drug before you use.
- Never use alone.
- If you are alone, call the National Overdose Response Service (NORS) virtual safe consumption site at 1-888-668-NORS (6677), or use a buddy system and call a friend.
- Ensure that emergency services can be contacted in the event of an overdose.
- Avoid mixing your drugs.
- Keep a naloxone kit on hand. You can get a naloxone kit at most pharmacies and needle exchange sites.
Naloxone is an emergency medicine that temporarily reverses the effects of an opioid overdose until the victim can get to hospital for treatment. Naloxone is recommended to be used in all suspected drug overdoses, due to the possibility of opioid contamination or poisoning. Local community partners are enhancing their naloxone distribution efforts in the wake of the alert. Free kits are also available for people who use opioids, as well as their family and friends. You can find a list of locations here.
MacDonald also encourages people to intervene if they see someone who is overdosing. Call 9-1-1 and give the person naloxone. She notes the Good Samaritan Act protects anyone trying to help in an emergency from possible legal repercussions. The Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act also protects people on the scene of an overdose from being charged for possessing or using drugs.
Signs of an overdose include: very large or very small pupils, slow or no breathing, cold and clammy skin, blue or purple fingernails or lips, and snoring or gurgling sounds. Often in drug overdoses, it is also difficult to wake up the person.
For local opioid overdose incidents, visit the Health Unit’s Opioid Overdose Report dashboard. People can also use the online submission form to anonymously report overdoses and drug-related information to assist in a quicker response to these incidents.
For media inquiries, contact:
Catherine MacDonald, Substances and Harm Reduction Coordinator, HKPR District Health Unit, 1-866-888-4577, ext. 2401.
About the Haliburton, Kawartha Pine Ridge District Health Unit
The Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit provides important public health programs and services to residents in Northumberland County, Haliburton County, and the City of Kawartha Lakes. Our dedicated team of public health professionals, led by our Medical Officer of Health, promote healthy living, protect against disease, and prevent illness and injury. We work with health care providers and community partners to address emerging health issues, service gaps and social inequities to support residents in being well and reaching their full potential. Our values of trust, engagement, accountability, and leadership guide what we do every day. Learn more at www.hkpr.on.ca.