Drug overdoses prompts Peterborough police to issue public warning

Drug overdoses in Peterborough prompts police warning
Peterborough police issued a special statement after they investigated three suspected drug overdoses in the span of 48 hours.

Peterborough police issued a special statement and warning to the public Saturday after they investigated three suspected drug overdoses in the span of 48 hours in the city.

Police don’t believe the deaths are related, but are warning residents of the potential dangers when using illicit street drugs.

“We’re not sure at this time if there is any link between the three, but certainly three sudden deaths within a period of 48 hours that appear to be drug related are concerning,” said city police Insp. Larry Charmley.

“I think the community knows that there are a lot of issues regarding the opioid crisis right now and we’ve been trying to get our messages out there.”

Local health organizations and police say the Canada-wide opioid crisis is real and has reached Peterborough. Between July 2013 and June 2016, the city had the fourth highest annual rate of opioid-related deaths in the province.

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READ MORE: Kelowna health officials hope surveying solo drug users will reduce risk of overdose

Police were able to seize a number of drugs from the scenes and are currently testing them to determine what kind drugs were involved in these recent deaths. It’s anticipated the results will be made public later this week.

“We’re not enforcing anything when it comes to drug overdoses, except if we can determine who the drug trafficker or the person might be, then we’ll try and go down that road,” said Charmley. “But certainly we are seeing more overdose deaths than we have in the past.”

There were 20 reported opioid-related deaths in the city last year. Statistics aren’t available for 2018 at this time, but police say they are hoping to prevent further deaths with a public appeal.

READ MORE: Police stress to call 911 immediately if you see someone overdosing — and don’t worry about legal issues

Peterborough medical officer of health, Dr. Rosana Salvaterra, says there’s potential for any illicit drug on the street to be contaminated with fentanyl, and the health unit and police are advising that if anyone is going to use illicit drugs to have a spotter nearby.

“If you have purchased [drugs] in the illicit market, then be aware that it’s probably contaminated with fentanyl,” said Dr. Salvaterra. “So in that case. do not use alone and do not mix your drugs, and make sure there is someone there who is trained and able to provide you with naloxone in the case that you need it.”
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Naloxone kits when administered can reverse the effects of an overdose. Free kits are available at pharmacies and the health unit.

READ MORE: Canada breaks record for annual opioid-related deaths as crisis worsens