Windsor

Meet the people trying to stop opioid misuse, deaths in Windsor

Pharmacists, police and health-care advocates are among the people on the frontlines in Windsor working on ways of preventing harms and deaths stemming from opioid abuse.
Byron Klingbyle of the AIDS Committee of Windsor is seen standing alongside some of the materials that are being handed out to opioid users in the city, in a bid to prevent deaths. (Peter Duck/CBC)

Pharmacists, police and health-care advocates are among the people on the frontlines in Windsor working on ways of preventing harms and deaths stemming from opioid abuse.

Within the Windsor area and the province at large, opioid-related ER visits, hospitalizations and deaths have been on the rise for some time.

That has prompted many to get involved in the fight to reduce these occurrences and help those suffering.

Reaching out

One of those approaches has involved handing out dozens of kits to Windsor-area opioid users that include naloxone — something that is administered to a person who is in the midst of an overdose of drugs that include fentanyl, heroin or methadone.

In the past, naloxone would only be available at hospitals or pharmacies.

Byron Klingbyle, a harm-reduction coordinator with the AIDS Committee of Windsor, said the kits being distributed have already helped save a life in the city this summer.

"They finished the training. They got the naloxone, and within two weeks ... one of the gentlemen overdosed, and his friend was able to save his life. Can you imagine how he would've felt if he didn't return and his friend overdosed and died," he told CBC News in an interview.

Some 65 kits have been handed out, but Klingbyle wishes the number were even higher.

He also wishes there was funding available to get the same kits in the hands of the friends and family of those addicted to opioids.

Limiting supply

Another program in Windsor-Essex involves having people on fentanyl prescriptions hand in their used patches before receiving new ones.

Tim Brady, a drug store owner in Essex, was among the first pharmacists to embrace the program.

"It very quickly brings to light those that are using the patches for a legitimate manner and those that aren't. I'd say a majority of the patients are highly receptive of it. It can be somewhat of an inconvenience, but if you do a good job expressing the need for it and why it's being done, I don't think there's really much push back on it," he told CBC News in an interview.

Other strategies include medicine cabinet clean-out days and better education for people using opioids for chronic pain.

OPP Det.-Const. Chris Auger said that a recent province-wide initiative this past May, called Prescription Drug Drop Off Day, was more successful than anticipated.

"We were actually surprised by the totals [for] that," he told CBC Radio's Windsor Morning.

"It was 1,300 kilograms of prescription medication being brought back. Of the narcotics brought back, 32 per cent were actually opioids that people were bringing back, being left in their cabinet."

Auger said that those addicted to opioids should reach out for help and take advantage of the public resources available to them.

But public health officials say the most important thing is for doctors to be much more careful about writing prescriptions for these drugs.

With a report from the CBC's Peter Duck

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