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Media Release: Significant increase in suspected drug poisoning deaths reported in HPE – HPEPH urges individuals not to use alone

Hastings and Prince Edward Counties/October 4, 2022

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

HPEPH is aware of approximately 5 deaths during the period of September 19-26 which are suspected to be drug related. This is four times as high as the weekly median for last year. As not all drug poisonings are reported, HPEPH expects that the number of poisonings being experienced in the community is higher than this.

HPEPH receives information about drug poisonings 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 suspected drug poisonings in our region, everyone who uses drugs is urged to take steps to reduce their risk:

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

Using drugs alone significantly increases the risk of a drug poisoning that leads to death. If using with someone else, do not use at exactly the same time. 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 poisoning and pick up a free naloxone kit. Naloxone is available at many local locations, including pharmacies. For a list of locations where naloxone is available, visit

You can help! Call for medical assistance.

A drug poisoning is a medical emergency. Anyone who suspects or witnesses a drug poisoning 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 a drug poisoning and calls 911. 

You can help! Report a drug poisoning.

Individuals who witness a drug poisoning 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.


For more information contact:

Emily Tubbs, Communications Specialist

Maureen Hyland, Communications Specialist

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. HPEPH is situated and provides services on the traditional territory of the Anishinaabe, Huron-Wendat and Haudenosaunee people. 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 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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