Pubdate: Fri, 01 Aug 2014
Source: Hamilton Spectator (CN ON)
Copyright: 2014 The Hamilton Spectator
Author: Nicole O'Reilly
Page: A3


After a spike of overdoses across the city, police are warning
intravenous drug users about a potentially fatal strain of heroin
being sold here.

Hamilton police Acting Detective Sergeant Phil Peckford of the vice
and drug unit said police are aware of eight non-fatal overdoses over
a 48-hour period starting Tuesday and are concerned someone could die.
"It's noteworthy," he said. It's not clear if the heroin is tainted or
if it's just a very high potency, Peckford said.

Police are hoping to seize some of the drug so it can be sent to
Health Canada for testing.

Holly Raymond, manager of concurrent disorders at St. Joseph's
Healthcare Hamilton, said heroin is often cut with other substances,
such as caffeine or the painkiller fentanyl, which can alter its potency.

Problems occur when addicts don't know the dosage they're taking, or
overestimate what their body can tolerate, Raymond said.

Signs of overdose include changes in breathing, a bluish tone to skin
and a headache, she said.

But often, people don't call for help soon enough because they fear
legal consequences.

When the community is aware of a problem batch of heroin, like this
one, word is spread to drug users through addiction services and
through the needle exchange van run by public health.

Police are "analyzing intelligence" to try to figure out the source of
the dangerous drug supply.

The overdoses have happened across the city, but not inside any
institutions, including the Hamilton-Wentworth Detention Centre.

Hamilton police warn drug users never to shoot up alone and to call
911 if feeling unwell.

Anyone with information is asked to call police at 905-546-3883 or
Crime Stoppers at 905-522-TIPS.
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