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Drug poisoning alert issued for Peterborough area

Peterborough Public Health has issued a new drug poisoning alert following multiple overdoses within its jurisdiction on March 3, 2024. Peterborough Public Health

Multiple overdoses on Sunday have prompted health officials to issue a new drug poisoning alert for Peterborough, Ont., and surrounding area.

On Monday, Peterborough Public Health issued the alert after its early warning surveillance system reported eight drug overdoses on Sunday that resulted in paramedic calls or visits to the emergency department at the Peterborough Regional Health Centre.

The health unit’s jurisdiction includes Peterborough, Peterborough County, Curve Lake First Nation and Hiawatha First Nation.

As of Monday afternoon, the health unit said the drug involved with the overdoses is not yet known.

The alert follows one issued in mid-February after 14 reported overdoses due to an orange and green sedative. The alert was extended with another five overdoses from another drug that had fentanyl and benzodiazepines (benzos), which is a sedative.

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Health officials note the use of naloxone cannot reverse the effects of sedatives but it can help.

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According to the health unit’s opioids harm data portal, there were six suspected fatal drug overdoses in January 2024 — data for February is not yet available.

There were 78 suspected fatal drug poisonings in 2023, 19 more than in 2022. The health unit says the 78 deaths are equivalent to one person dying from a drug poisoning every five days.

February data is also not available for emergency department visits and calls to 911 for drug overdoses.

From February 2023 to January 2024, there were 422 visits to the emergency department for an overdose with 56 per cent of the visits by men. Fifty-six per cent of all visits were by people between the age of 25 to 44.

The health unit says 89 per cent of ED visits were to the Peterborough Regional Health Centre with nearly half occurring between 4 p.m. and midnight.

Also in January 2024, there were 19 calls to 911 for a drug overdose, down from 42 reported a month earlier.

Precautions

The health unit advises that anyone who uses drugs, or knows someone who does, should take the following precautions:

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  • Don’t use drugs alone — visit the Consumption Treatment Services site at 220 Simcoe St. in Peterborough (new hours open 9:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily).
  • Test a small amount of the drug before you use it.
  • Avoid mixing drugs or sharing drugs.
  • Avoid using damaged or modified pipes/needles.
  • If you are alone, call the National Overdose Response Service (NORS) virtual safe consumption line at 1-888-668-NORS (6677), or call a friend.
  • Ensure that emergency services can be contacted in the event of an overdose.
  • Keep multiple naloxone kits on hand which help reverse the effects of an overdose. You can get a kit at most pharmacies and needle exchange sites. To find out how to access naloxone visit peterboroughpublichealth.ca and search for “opioids” or find the Accessing Naloxone pdf.

Use Peterborough Public Health’s Drug Reporting Tool to anonymously report overdose incidents and harms in the community.

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