Opioid Alert: Two fatal overdoses in past 48 hours

There have been two fatal opioid overdoses (pending coroner confirmation) within the past 48 hours in Owen Sound. This is in addition to an ongoing trend of multiple overdoses within Grey and Bruce this year.

Anecdotally, there have been at least 7 fatal overdoses this year alone (pending Coroner confirmation). In this situation, it is assumed that fentanyl or carfentanil are involved, and in one situation, a yellow chalk-like product is suspected to be the cause. Other reports indicate substances of differing colors, such as purple, green, and pink.

All street drugs should be deemed highly toxic.

People that use drugs are at significant risk of overdose due to the local street drug supply containing the highly toxic drug Fentanyl and/or Carfentanil. People must assume that any and all drugs purchased on the street contain Fentanyl or Carfentanil (100 X stronger than fentanyl) and considered extremely toxic.  We urge people that use drugs to do so as safe as possible by following some Harm Reduction strategies:

· Avoiding using alone.

   –   When using with someone else, avoid using at the same time.
   –   Call the OVERDOSE PREVENTION LINE at 1-888-688-6677 (NORS) if you must use                 alone

· Avoiding mixing different drugs.

   –  Mixing drugs, including alcohol, increases the risk of overdose.

· Going slow.

   –  Use smaller amounts and do test doses to check the strength of the drug.

· Knowing your tolerance.

   –  If using after a period of not using – use less.

· Getting overdose prevention training and carrying a Naloxone kit.

· Overdose is a medical emergency. Call 911 or go to the Emergency Department.

· The Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act provides protection from simple possession charges when 911 is called for an overdose.

The Overdose prevention line is a vital phone service for people that are using drugs alone.  It is a service that allows users to call so that they can be safe while using alone.  An operator will stay on the line with the user while the drug is used. In the event that the user becomes unresponsive, the Prevention Line operator will call 911 to make sure that help arrives.

If you know of a toxic drug, please report it by calling 211.  The operator will fill out a form and it will then go to Public Health to action and alert the community.

Naloxone and safe drug use equipment is available at the Health Unit M-F 830am-4pm, and through our participating sites. Call the Health Unit for details, or call 211.

For additional Addiction Services:

·         ConnexOntario 1-866-531-2600
·         Withdrawal Management/RAAM Clinic (Rapid Access Addiction Medicine Clinic) 519-376-5666
·         G&B House 519-376-9495
·         Ontario Addiction Treatment Centre 519-371-0007
·         CMHA Grey Bruce Mental Health and Addiction Services 519-371-3642
·         Mental Health Crisis Line Grey Bruce 1-877-470-5200
·         Overdose Prevention Line: 1-888-853-8542
·         https://www.publichealthgreybruce.on.ca/Your-Health/Harm-Reduction
·         If unsure – call 211

“In 2019, there were 16 fatal overdoses reported officially in Grey and Bruce.  In 2020, official numbers up to November 2020 indicate there were 18 fatal overdose,” says Ian Reich, Harm Reduction Manager at the Grey Bruce Health Unit. “We all need to act together, collectively, to address this issue. It is much more than a simple drug use issue, it is systemic, and the root of addiction must be addressed to ultimately tackle this epidemic. This is a Health, Social, and System issue, and as a result, so must the solution be.”