Health unit issues drug poisoning alert for Peterborough area

Peterborough Public Health has issued a drug poisoning alert on Jan. 9, 2023. Peterborough Public Health

The first drug poisoning alert of 2023 has been issued for the Peterborough region.

On Monday, Peterborough Public Health issued the alert after seven drug-related poisonings were reported over the weekend. The health unit says each incident required 911 first responders and an emergency department visit to the Peterborough Regional Health Centre.

The health unit believes the incidents are connected to a pink-coloured opioid product that has an “increased level of toxicity.”

“These reports have prompted Peterborough Public Health to issue a public warning in the hope of preventing further harms to the community,” stated the health unit, which serves Peterborough, Peterborough County, Curve Lake First Nation and Hiawatha First Nation.

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According to the latest data on the health unit’s opioid harms portal, in November 2022 there were two suspected fatal drug overdoses, down from seven reported in October. No data has been made available for December 2022.

From Jan. 1 to Nov. 30, 2022, there were 56 suspected fatal drug overdoses, according to the portal.

In December 2022, there were 35 visits to PRHC’s emergency department for opioid overdoses, down from 34 visits reported in November. There were 46 visits reported in October.

From Jan. 1, 2022 to Dec. 31, 2022, there were 539 emergency department visits for drug poisonings, 55 per cent of them by men. Approximately 50 per cent of the visits were people between the ages of 25 and 44, the portal reports.

Of the 539 emergency department visits, 46 per cents were made between 4 p.m. and midnight and 89 per cent were to PRHC.

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

  • Don’t use drugs alone — visit the Consumption Treatment Services site at 220 Simcoe St. (open 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily).
  • Test a small amount of drug before you use.
  • 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 at 1-888-668-NORS (6677), or call a friend.
  • Ensure that emergency services can be contacted in the event of an overdose.
  • Keep a naloxone kit on hand. You can get a kit at most pharmacies and needle-exchange sites. To find out how to access naloxone visit and search for “opioids” or find its Accessing Naloxone pdf here.

Use Peterborough Public Health’s Drug Reporting Tool to anonymously report overdose incidents and harms in the community. Under Canada’s Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act, anyone who seeks medical help for themselves or for someone else who has overdosed will not be charged for possessing or using drugs for personal use.

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