Pubdate: Thu, 31 Aug 2017
Source: Chatham Daily News, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 Chatham Daily News
Author: Ellwood Shreve
Page: A3


Community marks International Overdose Awareness Day for first

A total of 48 opioid-related deaths have been reported in Chatham-Kent
between 2005 and 2016, according to Public Health Ontario, but it's
likely that number is higher.

Jordynne Lindsay, a registered nurse with the Chatham-Kent Public
Health Unit, believes the number of local deaths could be
under-reported due to a difference in the coding used by the
Chatham-Kent Health Alliance emergency department, Chatham-Kent EMS
and Chatham-Kent police.

"The emergency department has a coding system they use when a patient
is triaged, and depending if something else was going on with the
patient at the time - a heart attack or some other issue health-wise -
it's not necessarily coded as an opioid overdose," she said.

She added the medical condition that resulted in the person's death
may have been caused by the opioid, but not necessarily on first
presentation in the ER.

"We're working right now to try to co-ordinate these efforts and have
a consistent reporting system so we are all on the same page," Lindsay

She added this will enable the agencies to alert each other when
something is happening in the community.

Education is also important, so on Thursday, the health unit teamed up
with the Chatham-Kent Drug Awareness Council, to mark International
Overdose Awareness Day for the first time in Chatham-Kent.

Lindsay said it is not just addicts who are at-risk for an
opioid-related overdose.

"It could be someone that has a prescription after dental surgery and
they are given Tylenol 3s or oxycodone and they accidentally take too
many, or they take it with alcohol and that will increase the side
effects," she said.

Another possibility, she added, could be an older adult who doesn't
clear the medication from their system as quickly and it builds up.

Naloxone kits, also called NARCAN kits, have proven effective in
treating people who suffer an opioid overdose.

As part of marking Overdose Awareness Day, free training sessions on
how to use this kit was offered at AIDS Support Chatham-Kent. Lindsay
said the 20-minute training session is "as simple as learning how to
give yourself nasal spray."

She noted the free naloxone kids are available from the health, which
also provides free training. She added the kits are also available
from many local pharmacies, but a health card is required. The kits
can also be picked up from the AIDS Support Chatham-Kent at 67
Adelaide St. S. in Chatham.

The risk overdose is even greater for those who are using illicit

Steve Pratt, harm reduction program manager for AIDS Support
Chatham-Kent, said, "it's becoming a major issue from the different
types of drugs that are moving through and cross-contamination of
bootleg fentanyls and things like that.

"On the front line, we've been hearing more people coming and telling
us of a story of when they overdosed," he added.

He said naloxone kits have been used locally to revive people who have
overdosed on opioids.

"As the issue becomes more mainstream, the more people that know how
to respond the better," Pratt said.

He added, "this has been a highly, highly stigmatized issue, so
there's been a lot of shame in trying to access programs and access
real information."

Pratt said people from all walks of life have been impacted by the
opioid crisis.

"We just want to make sure that we're helping to keep people safe."
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MAP posted-by: Matt