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Six overdoses in last five days in Grey and Bruce counties

Health officials are sounding the alarm after six opioid overdoses in the last five days in both Grey and Bruce counties. 

Lab and coroner confirmation are still required, but it appears one of the overdoses was fatal

Fentanyl is 40 times more potent than heroin and carfentanil is 100 times more potent than that. (U.S. Attorneys Office for Utah/The Associated Press)

Health officials are sounding the alarm after six opioid overdoses were reported in the last five days in Grey and Bruce counties. 

Although lab and coroner confirmation are still required, it appears one of the overdoses may have been fatal.

"While COVID-19 is a true threat, the opioid epidemic has continued to rage on during the pandemic. We must not forget about this public health crisis in the face of COVID-19, and we must treat it as the same level and rigor as we have the COVID-19 pandemic response," said Ian Reich, harm reduction manager for the Grey Bruce Health Unit.

People who use drugs are at significant risk of overdose due to the local street drug supply containing the highly toxic drug fentanyl. 

Even a small amount of opioids, like fentanyl or the more potent carfentanil, can trigger an overdose. 

Officials say drug users should assume any drugs purchased on the street contain fentanyl or carfentanil, which is 100 times stronger than fentanyl. 

"We must ensure that we continue to prioritize strategies to action this emergency together, as not one single agency or organization can fix this challenging epidemic alone. It will take a coordinated effort from all stakeholders and a shift in the way we view people that use drugs," said Reich. 

"Addiction is a health and social issue, not a personal choice, and as a result, we must treat it as such."

The health unit is aware many neighbouring jurisdictions have reported fentanyl in the cocaine supply, leading to fatal overdoses. 

Tips from the Health Unit:

  • Avoid using alone
  • If you must use alone call the overdose prevention line at 1-888-853-8542
  • Avoid mixing different drugs
  • Go slow. Use smaller amounts and do test doses to check the strength of the drug
  • Know your tolerance
  • Get overdose prevention training and carry a naloxone kit
  • The Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act provides protection from simple possession charges when 911 is called for an overdose

For additional Addiction Services:

ConnexOntario 1-866-531-2600

Withdrawal Management/RAAM Clinic (Rapid Access Addiction Medicine Clinic) 519-376-5666

Ontario Addiction Treatment Centre 519-371-0007

Overdose Prevention Line: 1-888-853-8542

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