Drug poisoning alerts have been issued in the Peterborough area and City of Kawartha Lakes.
Peterborough Public Health issued an alert on Tuesday regarding a substance pink in colour found within its jurisdiction (Peterborough, Peterborough County, Hiawatha First Nation and Curve Lake First Nation).
Testing found positive traces for benzos but negative for fentanyl and xylazine.
The health unit’s regional opioid harms portal reports that from Jan. 1 to June 30, 2023, there were 38 suspected drug-related deaths. There were five in June. Data for July is not yet available.
There were 59 suspected fatal drug poisonings for 2022 — approximately one person every seven days.
So far in 2023, there have been 195 emergency department visits for drug poisonings with 32 reported in June (July data not included). In 2022, there were 539 emergency department visits at Peterborough Regional Health Centre.
As for 911 calls due to drug poisonings, there have been 147 so far this year with 25 in June (July data not include). From June 2022 to June 2023, there were 302 calls for service. Of the calls for service, 61 per cent involved men. Sixty-five per cent of calls involved people between the ages of 25 to 44.
Of the 302 calls for service, 18.9 per cent saw a paramedic apply naloxone to help counter the effects of opioid poisoning.
City of Kawartha Lakes
On Monday, the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit issued a drug poisoning alert for the City of Kawartha Lakes after a “noticeable increase” in overdoses in the area.
The substance of concern is unknown, the health unit said.
“The recent increase in drug poisonings is concerning,” stated Leslie McLaughlin, the health unit’s substances and harm reduction coordinator. “We’re issuing this alert to inform the community to take necessary precautions and to remind people to be prepared with safe supplies and naloxone ahead of the upcoming long weekend.”
Specific data was unavailable but the health unit’s opioid overdose report shows there were between one to four overdoses from July 17 to July 23. The data encompasses the health unit’s jurisdiction of the City of Kawartha Lakes, Northumberland County and Haliburton County.
There were six suspected fatal drug overdoses in July. There were seven suspected drug overdoses with five incidents requiring paramedical services and between one and four that saw police respond.
Both health units say 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. in Peterborough (open 9:30 a.m. to 8 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 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. 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.