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Opioid Awareness and Prevention

What are Opioids?

Opioids include substances like heroin, fentanyl, carfentanil, morphine, oxycodone, and methadone. Some prescribed medications contain opioids as well as street drugs. The risk of overdose is always present.

By being able to recognize and respond to an overdose, you can save a life.

5 steps to preventing an opioid overdose

Signs of an Overdose

  • the person can’t be woken up
  • breathing has slowed or stopped
  • snoring or gurgling sounds
  • fingernails and lips turning blue or purple
  • pupils are tiny or eyes are rolled back
  • the body is limp

5 Steps to Respond to an Opioid Overdose

  1. SHOUT their name & SHAKE their shoulders
  2. CALL 9-1-1 If unresponsive.
  3. GIVE NALOXONE: 1 spray into nostril (or inject 1 vial or ampoule into arm or leg)
  4. PERFORM RESCUE BREATHING AND/OR CHEST COMPRESSIONS.
  5. IS IT WORKING? If no improvement after 2-3 minutes, repeat steps 3 & 4. Stay with them.

Naloxone

Naloxone is a safe medication that can temporarily reverse the effects of an opioid overdose, buying time for a person to get emergency medical care.

Opioids include substances like heroin, fentanyl, carfentanil, morphine, oxycodone, and methadone. Sometimes, drugs may contain opioids without the person knowing. Giving naloxone can save a life.

Naloxone takes between 2-3 minutes to work and wears off within 30 to 90 minutes, so it is important to seek further medical attention.

If you have a naloxone kit, remember to:
• store it at a temperature of 15-25° C.
• check the expiry date
Whether your naloxone is expired or you think it’s been exposed to the elements, any PHU office can replace it free of charge.

How to get Naloxone

If you or someone you know uses substances that may contain opioids, the Porcupine Health Unit and most pharmacies provide free take-home naloxone kits across the area.  See the Government of Ontario’s Where to Get Naloxone page to find out where you can get a free kit or call any health unit office.

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