Surge in opioid overdoses prompts Sudbury health officials to issue alert

Another surge in drug overdoses in the Sudbury region has resulted in Public Health Sudbury and Districts issuing a community alert.

'We just got to keep going at it and keep working and hoping that it's making a dent'

Public Health Sudbury and Districts is asking the community to share important information to prevent opioid overdoses and save lives, including asking people to carry a naloxone kit and call 911 if an overdose is suspected. (David Maialetti/Associated Press)

Public Health Sudbury and Districts has issued a community alert as the result of another surge of opioid overdoses.

Public health nurse Josée Joliat says recent numbers aren't encouraging.

"It does get difficult. We've seen people of our community being affected and seeing those numbers increase from month-to-month and year-to-year," she said.

Joliat says the health unit relies on a robust community network to keep them updated when the number of overdoses spikes. That includes EMS, police and outreach workers.

The health unit issued a news release Saturday, saying there have been a "higher number of suspected opioid overdoses in Sudbury."

They cannot confirm the substance that has caused the overdoses, but "this situation serves as an important reminder to the community that street drugs may be cut or mixed with substances such as fentanyl or carfentanil, and that even a very small amount of these substances can cause an overdose."

The health unit says, "an overdose happens when a person uses more of a substance, or combination of substances, than their body can handle. As a consequence, the brain is unable to control basic life functions. The person might pass out, stop breathing or experience a seizure. Overdoses can be fatal."

Joliat says it's going to take the full effort of the community to slow down the opioid crisis, and turning a blind eye to addiction isn't going to help.

"It took us this long with the opioid crisis to get to this point. And it's going to take us a while to get out of it," she said.

"Unfortunately, it's not just a 'do this one thing and everything is going to be solved'. It's really going to take a concerted effort. We just got to keep going at it and keep working and hoping that it's making a dent."

The health unit has issued two alerts about overdoses since May, and has renewed calls for a supervised injection site.


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