HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Opioid Overdoses Increase Locally
Pubdate: Tue, 11 Jul 2017
Source: Daily Observer, The (Pembroke, CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 Pembroke Daily Observer
Author: Sean Chase
Page: A1


The County of Renfrew has seen a sharp rise in the number of opioid
overdoses so far this year, according to first responders.

The County of Renfrew Paramedic Service has answered 95 overdoses
calls, which matches the number of overdose cases that paramedics
responded to in 2016. Paramedics are seeing on average about a 13 per
cent year-over-year increase in opioid overdoses.

"Without a doubt the number of cases is going up," said Mike Nolan,
director of emergency services and chief of the County of Renfrew
Paramedic Service. "There is a significant increase in the number of
serious overdoses that can be reversed using Narcan."

County paramedics have seen a 57 per cent increase in the number of
times they've had to administer Narcan or naloxone, which is the drug
used to slow down the effects of an opioid overdose, between 2015 and
this year. These overdoses result in the patient losing consciousness
or have stopped breathing altogether.

"Those numbers are alarming and concerning to us," Nolan added. "We
are seeing more and more serious opiate overdoses." Public Health
Agency of Canada recently found an estimated 2,458 people died of
opioid overdoses, a national death rate of 8.8 per 100,000 people.
While illicit fentanyl is behind a surge in overdose deaths across
Canada in recent years, health officials believe the problem dates
back to the introduction of the prescription painkiller OxyContin.

Nolan said there is a misconception that opioids are being used as a
party drug or that people smoking pot have found it laced with
fentanyl. In most cases, the drug has been tied to addiction and
mental health. The vast majority of the cases in the county involve
fentanyl and include people of all ages,

"These are all highly preventable occurrences," he added. "With
education and appropriate mental health and addiction treatment, we
should not be having any opioid overdoses in Renfrew County."

The county has an addiction treatment system that will triage cases
and refer clients to mental health or addiction services available
locally. In addition, paramedics and public health nurses made drug
awareness presentations at several county schools over the spring.
Nolan said public education is key and that he hopes the numbers start
coming down.

"I am hopeful that the third and fourth quarter of 2017 will be much
better," he said. "It's certainly not a good trend."
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