By Sue Tiffin
Published Sept. 5 2017
This summer Naloxone saved at least one life in Haliburton County.
Haliburton County paramedics treated a patient in the throes of an opioid overdose on scene with the emergency remedy which local police and emergency responders have on hand and have been trained to use.
Free Naloxone kits and training to use them are also available in Haliburton County to people who use opioids as well as their family and friends. Aug. 31 marked International Overdose Awareness
Day and the local health unit wants residents to know about the risk of opioids and the availability of the kits to opioid users and their family and friends that might help save lives.
“We encourage people to take advantage of the Naloxone kits while learning what they can do to prevent needless opioid overdoses and deaths” said Denise Smith substance misuse prevention and harm reduction co-ordinator of the Haliburton Kawartha Pine Ridge District Health Unit.
Haliburton County has the second highest rate of prescribing opioids – powerful prescription painkillers – in the province among those accessing the Ontario drug benefit program according to a study released last year by the Ontario Drug Policy Research Network.
Examples of opioids – found in both illegal and prescription drugs – include heroin fentanyl morphine oxycodone (OxyContin) methadone hydrocodone (Vicodin) codeine and other prescription pain medications.
High rates of prescription are a precursor to the opioid crisis creating more potential for misuse according to Smith.
“We’re not immune to the risks of opioids and other drugs as local police are seeing bootleg fentanyl turning up in illicit drugs seized [in the Haliburton Kawartha Pine Ridge district]” said Smith. “But with greater community awareness and action we can save lives by helping reduce opioid overdoses.”
Smith noted that the fentanyl is mostly being used in the production of heroin and there has not been evidence of it in marijuana.
According to an Ontario Provincial Police press release in June Health Canada determined fentanyl was present in 114 OPP seizures in 2016 from mainly rural communities.
Officers across the province are being trained on the use of Naloxone in cases of opioid overdose.
Symptoms of opioid overdose include slowed or stopped breathing slowed heart rate and blood pressure reduced body temperature and unresponsiveness.
Naloxone is an opioid antagonist that can reverse an opioid overdose for up to an hour giving overdose victims more time to seek treatment at a hospital.
Naloxone kits are available through health unit offices in Port Hope and Lindsay but not at the Haliburton location. People in Haliburton County who use opioids are able to access Naloxone kits through a delivery service by calling the health unit at 1-866-888-4577 or PARN at 1-800-361-2895. Free kits are also available through participating pharmacies including Rexall Shopper’s Drug Mart and Highland Pharmacy in Haliburton.
Naloxone does not work for overdoses that are not caused by opioids.
People in need of treatment for drug use are urged to contact Fourcast Addiction Services at 1-800-461-1909 or via www.fourcast.ca.