With the opioid crisis affecting residents in areas around Guelph and Waterloo Region, a new resource is being made available to help combat the issue.
The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), with input from Wellington Guelph Drug Strategy, have created a toolkit to help educate the public about opioid-related emergencies and naloxone, the overdose-reversing drug.
“The resource is a very comprehensive booklet on reducing harms, recognizing and responding to opioid overdoses within your organization,” said Helen Fishburn, senior director of services with the CMHA. “(It) will also provide an overview on naloxone.”
The toolkit doesn’t actually include the drug itself, but Fishburn said organizations can purchase it.
According to the CMHA, 50 people died due to an opioid overdose in 2016 in Guelph, Waterloo Region and Wellington County.
“I’d like to extend a great big ‘thank you’ to CMHA Ontario for developing the toolkit,” said Adrienne Crowder, manager of the Wellington Guelph Drug Strategy.
“Embedded in harm reduction principles, it speaks to how stigma surrounding drug use prevents people from getting appropriate care.”
The free toolkit is meant to assist community organizations such as hospitals, police departments, drop-in centres, shelters, and volunteers at a church or neighbourhood group.
“This kind of information is geared towards anyone,” Fishburn said. “That is the best approach in terms of intervening, is to have everyone in our community aware and informed about how to best respond.”
CMHA said that just as portable defibrillators are common in public places, so too should naloxone.
“The opioid overdose crisis continues to claim too many lives in Ontario. We need to better prepare ourselves to handle overdoses and ready access to naloxone is the best way we can save lives,” said Fred Wagner, executive director of the CMHA in Waterloo-Wellington. “This toolkit offers organizations and individuals actionable steps to create a first-aid response for opioid emergencies.”