Music festivalgoers urged to bring drug overdose kits

Music festivalgoers in Canada urged to bring drug-overdose kits
WATCH: In the midst of a fentanyl crisis affecting multiple provinces, public health officials in Alberta and Ontario are urging those planning to attend summer music festivals to bring their own overdose kits. Heather Yourex-West explains.

In the midst of a crisis involving rising numbers of opioid-related overdoses and deaths, health officials in Alberta and Ontario are urging summer music festival attendees to bring their own overdose kits.

“We’ve advised music festivals to encourage their attendees to pick up naloxone kits — the antidote to opioid overdoses — and bring those to areas where they might be using or planning on using,” said Dr. Joanna Oda, a medical officer of health for Alberta Health Services.

READ MORE: Experts weigh in on problems plaguing music festivals 

Last year, 10 people had to be taken to hospital for drug or alcohol-related issues after attending the Chasing Summer Music Festival in Calgary.

The year before, 17 people were taken to hospital from the same festival for drug-related issued.

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READ MORE: 17 people taken to hospital from Calgary music festival for substance abuse issues

Global News contacted organizers of the Chasing Summer Music Festival to see if naloxone kits would be allowed onto festival grounds this year. As of Monday evening, nobody had responded to the request.

The festival’s website advises attendees that illegal substances, drugs and drug paraphernalia are not permitted onto festival grounds but says that prescription drugs are permitted provided they are clearly and correctly labelled in bottles and the quantity of medication does not exceed the amount necessary during the individual’s time at the festival.

READ MORE: Ontario music festival WayHome revises policy on attendees bringing naloxone

Following consultation with Toronto Public Health, an Ontario music festival reversed a policy that would have banned attendees from bring their own injectable naloxone kits. Instead, patrons of the WayHome Music and Arts Festival were able to trade syringes of the opioid overdose antidote for a nasal spray that has the same effect.

Naloxone kits are also permitted onto the grounds of the VELD Music Festival being held in Toronto this weekend.