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Suspected Opioid Related Overdoses Highlight the Need for Increased Awareness

Timmins, Ontario - Wednesday, February 27, 2019

The Porcupine Health Unit (PHU) is issuing a public safety alert. Through the Opioid Surveillance and Early Warning System an increase in suspected opioid overdoses has been identified in Timmins.

“We urge family and friends of people who use drugs, and all parents, to increase the conversation around the risks of any drug use, especially opioids. We all play a critical role in improving community awareness and preventing tragic outcomes,” says Dr. Lianne Catton, the Porcupine Health Unit’s Medical Officer of Health. “Recognizing an overdose and having naloxone at hand can save lives.” An overdose occurs when an individual ingests more of a substance, or combination of substances, that interferes with breathing and brain function.

Although naloxone can temporarily reverse the effects of an opioid overdose, it wears off within 30 to 90 minutes, so it is important to seek further medical attention. There are other ways to reduce the risks of an overdose, including not using alone, using small doses, and avoiding mixing substances. People who use drugs, and their family and friends, should be familiar with the signs and symptoms of overdose and how to provide first aid, including administering naloxone.

If you suspect an overdose, call 911 immediately, administer naloxone if available, and wait for help to arrive. The Good Samaritan Act provides protection from arrest and breaches for simple possession.

Free Naloxone kits are readily available throughout the area at Porcupine Health Unit offices and at many pharmacies. A list of sites is available at: https://www.ontario.ca/page/get-naloxone-kits-free. In addition to naloxone kits and overdose prevention education, the PHU provides an important connection to other health and social services for those who use drugs.

The Porcupine Health Unit and Timmins Police Service are members of the Timmins and Area Drug Strategy Steering Committee, a collaboration with several key community partners in health and social service sectors working to comprehensively address opioid and substance use within our communities.

The Porcupine Health Unit is located in Northeastern Ontario, serving the entire Cochrane District and Hornepayne, in Algoma District. The main office is located in Timmins, Ontario, with branch offices in Cochrane, Hearst, Hornepayne, Iroquois Falls, Kapuskasing, Matheson, Moosonee and Smooth Rock Falls.