Health Unit in Sault urges precaution after 3 suspected overdose deaths last week
Algoma Health Unit also reports rise in those seeking emergency help for opioid poisoning
The Algoma Public Health Unit has issued a public advisory urging anyone who uses street drugs to take precautions.
In a news release, the health unit says a higher than usual number of people went to the emergency department for medical treatment for suspected opioid poisonings last week, from Nov. 26 to Dec. 2.
Also last week, Sault Police say three more people died of what they believe to be opioid overdoses.
That's in addition to the four suspected overdose deaths that Sault Police reported at the beginning of November.
The Algoma Health Unit describes opioid poisoning as occurring when a person uses more of a substance, or combination of substances, than their body can handle.
The health unit says anyone who consumes drugs should be aware that they can be mixed with dangerous substances like fentanyl, that can't be seen, smelled or tasted.
"Opioid poisoning does not discriminate," says Dr. Jennifer Loo, associate medical officer of health.
"Neither should we when it comes to getting people the health services and help they need."
Loo says the Health Unit can't say exactly how many more people sought medical help for opioid poisoning last week.
"It's unclear at this point. It may be related to more potent substances contaminating street drugs. It may be related to changes in peoples' behaviour and how drugs are taken. It may also be simply a co-incidental spike. It's not clear."
Loo adds that anyone who uses drugs should carry naloxone, and make sure they always have someone with them when they use.
"All of us can help by learning more about the issue and knowing how to connect someone to support services if a friend or loved one reaches out."
With files from Martha Dillman