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Six overdoses in five days has health unit sounding alarm

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There have been six opioid overdoses, including one fatality in which an opioid is suspected, in the past five days in Grey and Bruce counties, the Grey Bruce Health Unit warned Tuesday.

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Health officials await confirmation by a laboratory and a coroner about a fatality, Ian Reich, a public health manager with the health unit, said in a news release.

Local street drugs containing the highly toxic fentanyl put people at significant risk of overdose, the release said. People should assume street drugs contain fentanyl, or worse, carfentanil, which is 100 times stronger, according to the release.

“We are aware that many neighbouring jurisdictions have reported fentanyl in the cocaine supply as well, leading to fatal overdoses,” the release said.

“While COVID-19 is a true threat, the opioid epidemic has continued to rage on during the pandemic,” Reich said in the release. “Addiction is a health and social issues, not a personal choice, and as a result, we must treat it as such.”

The health unit offered some suggestions to reduce harm for drug users: avoid using drugs alone or at the same time as others with you and call the Overdose Prevention Line at 1-888-853-8542 if you must use alone, so someone listening can call 911 if needed.

Avoid mixing drugs, including alcohol, because that increases the risk of overdose; use smaller amounts to test dose strength and if using after a period off drugs, use less.

Get overdose training and a Naloxone kit, which can temporarily reverse the effects of an overdose. Call 911 or go to hospital in the case of an overdose.

The Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act protects from simple possession charges when 911 is called for an overdose, the release said.

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