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Media Release: Increase in drug related overdoses in HPE

Hastings and Prince Edward Counties/March 3, 2022

Hastings Prince Edward Public Health (HPEPH) is reminding individuals who use drugs to take all available precautions to avoid overdose. Over the past few days, HPEPH has received increasing reports of overdose in the region.  While local partners are continuing to investigate the situation, including the substance linked to these events, increasing reports of overdose are often the result of new and/or toxic drugs being introduced to the area.

At this time, HPEPH is receiving increasing reports of overdose related activity in the community. HPEPH is aware of approximately 5 drug related overdoses over the past 3-4 weeks. Three of the individuals who experienced overdose did not survive. It is important to recognize that many other overdoses are likely occurring in the region but are not captured in available data, as overdoses can only be reported when an individual seeks medical attention.

HPEPH receives information about drug related overdoses from several community partners, as well as local residents. While HPEPH is continuing to learn more about what may be contributing to increased reports of overdose in our region,  everyone who uses drugs is urged to take steps to reduce their risk.

  • Avoid mixing drugs
  • Try a small amount first
  • Never use alone, and
  • Have at least one naloxone kit on hand

“Having at least one naloxone kit on hand is a critical way to help reduce your risk, it is a good idea to have more than one kit on hand, as naloxone’s ability to reduce the effect of opioids in your system is temporary,” says Dr. Ethan Toumishey, Medical Officer of Health and CEO at HPEPH.  “In addition, the benefits of naloxone only last for about 30-90 minutes, so it is very important to call 911 once naloxone is administered so you will have access to medical assistance once the effects of naloxone wear off.”

Using drugs alone significantly increases the risk of an overdose that leads to death. If you must use drugs alone, use an overdose prevention service such as the National Overdose Prevention Services by calling 1-888-688-NORS(6677).  When using this non-judgemental service, an individual will stay on the line with you while you use drugs, and if you lose consciousness, they will call for medical assistance to help you.

You can help! Seek support and harm reduction services for yourself or others.

If you or someone you know is struggling with drug use and would like support, visit HPEPH’s Getting Help page. To protect yourself and others, be aware of the signs of an opioid overdose and pick up a free naloxone kit. Naloxone is available at many local locations, including many pharmacies. For a list of locations where naloxone is available, visit hpepublichealth.ca/safer-drug-use.

You can help! Call for medical assistance.

An overdose is a medical emergency. Anyone who suspects or witnesses an overdose should call 911. The Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act provides some legal protection against simple drug possession charges for anyone who experiences, witnesses or responds to an overdose and calls 911. 

You can help! Report an overdose.

Individuals who witness an overdose in the community can report the event to HPEPH, by completing our online Overdose Reporting tool. This tool is completely anonymous and information is provided to Public Health Nurses to help ensure harm reduction services are available to those who need them most.

 
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For more information contact:

Emily Tubbs, Communications Specialist

etubbs@hpeph.ca

Maureen Hyland, Communications Specialist

mhyland@hpeph.ca

About Hastings Prince Edward Public Health

Hastings Prince Edward Public Health (HPEPH) is a public health agency that serves the counties of Hastings and Prince Edward from four local offices. We monitor the health of our local population, deliver programs and services within our communities, and help develop healthy public policies. We provide information and support in many areas to help improve the health and well-being of our residents. Together with our communities, we help people become as healthy as they can be. For more information, please visit hpePublicHealth.ca. You can also find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and Instagram.

We invite community partners and residents to share this Media Release with their respective networks.

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COVID-19 VACCINES IN HPEPH

Appointments for individuals 5+ can be booked through the provincial vaccine booking site, or by calling 1-833-943-3900 from 8 am to 8 pm, 7 days a week.  

Due to limited supply, HPEPH will initially be prioritizing available bivalent vaccine for residents and workers at identified highest-risk facilities.  Some HPEPH vaccination clinics MAY offer the bivalent vaccine, as availability allows. Vaccine clinics in Hastings and Prince Edward Counties will continue to offer monovalent vaccines (the same mRNA vaccines given as the primary series) for all eligible individuals until a steady supply of the bivalent vaccine is available.

Visit the HPEPH vaccine booking web page for details.

COVID-19 PROTOCOLS

Symptoms or exposure? Visit www.ontario.ca/exposed for the most up to date information about what to do.

For the most up to date information on current provincial restrictions, visit https://covid-19.ontario.ca/public-health-measures.

The Ministry of Health has launched a new toll-free line as an additional resource to help answer questions from the public regarding evolving COVID-19 testing and isolation guidance. The line can be reached at 1-888-777-0730, and is available from 8 am to 6 pm, 7 days a week.