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Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit marks Overdose Awareness Day

Aug. 31 marks International Overdose Awareness Day. The Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit will be participating in the first overdose awareness event at the Delhi Tobacco Museum/Quance Park. From 1-4 p.m. the Health Unit’s Harm Reduction Team will be providing information about preventing overdose as well as distributing free naloxone kits.

 

The purpose of the day is to raise awareness of overdose and reduce the stigma of drug-related death. It also acknowledges the grief felt by families and friends remembering those who have died or had a life-altering injury due to overdose.

 

An overdose occurs when the body is overwhelmed by exposure to a toxic amount of a substance or combination of substances. While street drugs often come to mind, an overdose can happen with many different types of substances from alcohol to prescription drugs in all segments of the Canadian population.

 

Here in Haldimand and Norfolk between Apr. 2017 and Dec. 2018, there were 13 opioid-related deaths, most of which were caused by fentanyl. The majority of these deaths were accidental and occurred in the individual’s own private home. Naloxone, a life-saving medication used to temporarily reverse opioid-related overdoses, was only used in 25 percent of these deaths. That means that most of these deaths could have been prevented if someone had been there to administer naloxone.

 

If you or someone you know use drugs, whether prescribed or not, remember the 4Cs to safer drug use:

  1. Careful use– don’t use alone, go slow, and start with small amounts
  2. Carry naloxone– pick up a free naloxone kit from any Health Unit office or participating pharmacy
  3. Call 911 –for every overdose even when naloxone is used! If you are hesitant to call 911, the Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Actcan help provide some protection from certain charges.
  4. CPR–push hard, push fast

 

While it can be scary or upsetting to think about overdose, the good news is that education and preparation can help prevent it from happening. The Health Unit, in collaboration with many local agencies and community members, formed the Harm Reduction Action Team (HRAT). The goal of HRAT is to raise awareness of opioid-related harms in our communities, discuss emerging issues, host community education events, and promote harm reduction services and resources. Members of HRAT will be attending the overdose awareness event to provide information about supports and resources in our community to better assist anyone who themselves struggles with substances or who may know someone who is. Talking about overdose could save a life.