Pubdate: Sat, 05 Aug 2017
Source: Intelligencer, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017, The Belleville Intelligencer
Page: A6


Not even a full week into August and local health officials are
reporting three overdoses in the region. Three. In less than a week.
If that number isn't enough to make people realize there's an issue in
the Quinte region it's hard to imagine what would.

In recent months the incidents of opioid use and overdoses has climbed
in Quinte and it's enough, now, that health officials are urging
people to use precaution. When people are being told if they choose to
use illicit drugs they need to ensure people know where they are and
what they are doing it's quite telling.

Drug users and their friends and family are being encouraged by
Hastings Prince Edward Public Health to ensure they have a Naloxone
kit nearby at all times in case of an overdose. It's not that much
different than clean needle-exchange programs where a pro-active
approach is being embraced to prevent deaths.

"These people are definitely in a life-threatening situation," Doug
Socha, Hastings-Quinte EMS chief said this week. Paramedics are part
of the taskforce being spearheaded by Public Health to help battle the
growing number of overdoses connected to illicit drugs containing fentanyl..

"Because we have seen a sudden spike in overdoses we really wanted to
ensure that the public was aware," explained Stephanie McFaul, a
program manager with Hastings Prince Edward Public Health. "We have
been doing enhanced surveillance. There are drugs in our community and
they're causing people to overdose."

Frequent users should get their hands on a Naloxone kit, which is
available at the health unit and a select number of participating
pharmacies in the area. Free Naloxone kits are available to current
and past opioid users, as well as the family and friends of current or
previous users.

There has been - not just in our communities, but across the country -
a heightened sense of panic surrounding these drugs and what they are
doing to drug users. It's a panic that certainly seems warranted when
presented with figures such as three overdoses in less than a week.

As McFaul, and so many others, has said, even a small dose of fentanyl
can be fatal and when it can easily be mixed in to drugs without users
knowing, the result can be devastating.

The Quinte community needs to continue to work together to address
this issue and making the kits readily available is a great step
toward preventing deaths which are unnecessary. Heightened awareness
can only be a good thing.
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