Pubdate: Thu, 29 Dec 2016
Source: Hamilton Spectator (CN ON)
Copyright: 2016 The Hamilton Spectator
Author: Molly Hayes
Page: A3


Barton Street jail, Milton's Vanier Centre for Women, only two Ontario
facilities doing this

Hamilton-Wentworth Detention Centre inmates are now receiving opioid
antidote kits upon release from jail.

It has been months since the province pledged to equip all at-risk Ontario
inmates with naloxone in an effort to prevent overdoses after release.

With a new year on the horizon, they are falling short in their delivery.

Hamilton's Barton Street jail and Milton's Vanier Centre for Women, near
Highway 401, are the only two institutions actively providing the
auto-injector antidote to people as they are released from custody.

"The ministry expects that eight more correctional institutions will begin
distribution of naloxone kits early in the new year, with the remainder of
provincial correctional facilities following later in the spring,"
Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services (MCSCS)
spokesperson Andrew Morrison said in an email to The Spectator.

In the meantime, the remaining institutions are handing out "calling
cards" with information pointing people to where they can pick up a free
naloxone kit in the community - which experts say is not as effective.

"When people are leaving jail, they have so many competing priorities to
take care of," said Dr. Fiona Kouyoumdjian, a part-time physician at the
Barton jail and a public health physician at St. Michael's Hospital and
McMaster University.

"They have to figure out their housing; they have to reunite with their
families; they have to figure out their income and their employment.

"And so to give people easier access to life-saving treatments as they
leave the jail is really important."

It is particularly important because the risk of overdose is heightened

"We have research from Canada that shows the rates of death are increasing
when people leave correctional facilities in Ontario - and specifically
that the rate of death from overdose is 56 times what we would expect in
the two weeks after people leave provincial jails," Kouyoumdjian said.

This is because in jail - where access to drugs is decreased - tolerance
is lowered.

The danger is that former inmates will go back to using the same amount
they used before incarceration and their bodies won't be able to handle

The jail naloxone program is a collaboration between the corrections
ministry and the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.

It is one of many programs being rolled out in light of the opioid crisis
sweeping the country.

Hundreds of people are dying each year from opioid overdoses in Ontario
and those numbers continue to increase as deadly bootleg drugs like
fentanyl and carfentanil become more prevalent on the streets.

In Hamilton alone, 37 people are believed to have died of an opioid
overdose last year.
- ---
MAP posted-by: