Pubdate: Fri, 01 Sep 2017
Source: Peterborough Examiner, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 Peterborough Examiner
Author: Jason Bain
Page: A3


Awareness day: City police station flags lowered to remember those
lost to drugs, alcohol

Everyone has a role in battling the stigma that can be even more
damaging to addicts than drugs themselves, the medical officer of
health said as city police hosted an event to mark International
Overdose Awareness Day on Thursday.

Directing judgements and negative attitudes towards those suffering
from addiction only perpetuate fear and avoidance, and as a result,
poorer outcomes for them, said Dr. Rosana Salvaterra of Peterborough
Public Health.

"That cycle just repeats itself," she said as emergency service
representatives and community partners gathered for a second year to
mark the day with a ceremonial lowering of the flags at city police

The day, held annually on Aug. 31, was established to commemorate
loved ones who have died from overdoses related to alcohol and other

Over the past year, there have been several local efforts aiming to
increase the availability of naloxone, a lifesaving antidote to an
opioid overdoes.

Thursday was no exception, with take-home naloxone kits offered at
pop-up locations at the Silver Bean Cafe in Millennium Park,
Peterborough Square and One Roof Community Diner.

The Peterborough Overdose Prevention Program distributes the kits
through the health unit, Peterborough Aids Resource Network and the
FourCAST addictions treament program. More than 135 kits have been
distributed between January and June of this year, officials said.

The current "epidemic" of overdoses involves patients who began with
one prescription. Salvaterra said.

The key is to continue to build on the community's collaborative
efforts to assist and as part of that, all citizens must recognize
they have a role, she said. "It starts with offering everyone the
compassion and respect that they deserve."

The statistics - such as that the city has the fourth highest rate of
opioid deaths in the province - are important, Salvaterra said, but
she pointed out that people are at the heart of them, asking that
those lost be remembered with compassion.

"It's not easy losing someone you care about ... because life is so

Partners gathered Thursday out of tragedy, but there is a bright
future, Peterborough County/City Paramedics Chief Randy Mellow said.

Local paramedics have responded to 175 overdoses so far in 2017 and,
as a last resort, administered naloxone 24 times.

The issue is not one that can be ignored, city police Chief Murray
Rodd said, pointing out how the city was among the first where
community partners collaborated to create a drug strategy.

"Any opportunity to put focus on the issue and prevent deaths in our
community ... is what we are trying to achieve," he told those gathered.

Deputy Chief Tim Farquharson pointed out that according to a recent
report, half of overdoses happen in front of other people. In half of
those cases, those other people do not call 911 - but thanks to
education efforts, that statistic is improving.

"For us, it's about the preservation of life," he said, adding how
proud he is of the efforts that have been underway since 2008. "We
want to continue working on a strategy that makes things better."

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