Pubdate: Wed, 10 May 2017
Source: Intelligencer, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017, The Belleville Intelligencer
Author: Luke Hendry
Page: A1


Introduced to the dangers of narcotics during public seminar held
Tuesday night

Parents need to be involved and informed to help lower the risk of
accidental drug overdoses among young people.

That was the message heard Tuesday night at a public seminar organized
by Hastings Prince Edward Public Health at Bridge Street United Church.

About 50 people attended the talk, which was intended as an
introduction for parents to the dangers of opioids, also known as
narcotics. They include such drugs as codeine, morphine, oxycodone and

Listeners heard not only about the tainting of street drugs with
other, more potent substances, but also the risks to patients using
prescription medicine legally.

"This is not just a big-city problem. This affects the whole province,
including our region," said Dr. Piotr Oglaza, the health unit's
medical resident.

Collette and Rob Rodgers of Frankford brought their son Jack, 12, for
the talk.

Jack attends Albert College, where staff informed parents about the

"It's more of a fact-seeking mission," Collette Rodgers

"We want to do everything we can to make sure our kid doesn't fall

"We've heard some really scary stories about what's happening with the
teens," she said, describing reports of young people overdosing
without realizing they were being exposed to such potent drugs as fentanyl.

"It's a different time than when we grew up," said

Oglaza said more than any other age group in Canada, people ages 15 to
24 report the most illicit drug use.

"We know it's nature that teens will experiment. We want to prevent
these accidental deaths resulting from that experimenting," he said,
noting a single dose of some substances, such as fentanyl and
carfentanil, can kill. Health unit staff offered kits of naloxone, a
temporary opioid overdose antidote, and training following the
meeting. Naloxone in both nasal spray and injectable form is now
available free from health unit offices in Belleville, Trenton, Picton
and Bancroft and some pharmacies.

"You can't harm someone by giving it," said public health nurse
Christie Reeve. She said even people using prescription opioids for
medical reasons should have such kits.

But awareness of the risk remains the first line of defence against
overdoses and Oglaza said science shows talking with young people
about drugs won't cause them to try them.

"Having that frank conversation … if anything, is going to help
prevent these accidental deaths."

Reeve advised recreational drug users to avoid using while alone and
to avoid mixing drugs and alcohol. Knowing your tolerance is advised,
as is using only small doses - since dosages in illicit pills, for
example, can vary widely.

Oglaza said Canada is among the countries in which opioids are
prescribed most frequently. Seventy-two per cent of teenagers get
their pills from home, he said. He recommended locking up such drugs
just as someone would lock up guns. Det. Const. Kevin Postma of Quinte
West OPP agreed, suggesting the practice should be regulated.

He said drug dealers are cutting such drugs as ecstasy, MDMA and
cocaine with "anything they can get … that will cause addiction."
They're even tainting marijuana, he said.

Public health nurse Christie Reeve said health unit staff 2003
distributed nearly 11,000 needles through their needle exchange
program. By 2015, that had climbed to more than 300,000.

But since the health unit's Lifesaver naloxone program began last
fall, there has been relatively little interest in the antidote kits.
More than 70 have been distributed and more than 100 people trained.

Reeve said anyone suspecting someone has overdosed should call 911

"We all need to take responsibility; we all need to pay attention,"
said Stephanie McFaul, a program manager with the health unit.

"We want people talking about it." Several, including Addictions and
Mental Health Services Hastings and Prince Edward and Children's
Mental Health Services, were present at the meeting.

For more information on opioids and naloxone, call the health unit at
613-966-5500 or visit
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