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Three die of suspected drug poisonings in one week in Waterloo Region


A community drug alert has been issued for Waterloo Region.

The Waterloo Region Integrated Drug Strategy (WRIDS) says from March 19 to March 26, three people died of suspected drug poisonings throughout the region.

According to WRIDS, the unregulated drug supply is unpredictable and drug overdoses and poisonings may require more naloxone and unexpected reactions could happen.

“Overdoses do occur as people use substances that they often don’t know what substances they’re actually using,” explained Cameron Dearlove, the WRIDS chair and executive director of Porchlight Counselling and Addiction Services. “If something has chemicals in it that they’re not expecting, then sometimes these overdoses come in waves like this.”

The Kitchener CTS Drug Checking Program has recently detected fentanyl in samples, combined with various new fentanyl analogues, bromazolam, xylazine, and medetomidine/dexmedetomidine.

It’s not known if any of these substances were involved in recent fatal overdoses.

“There are a number of harm reduction strategies that are in place to try to keep people safe when they’re using an unregulated drug,” Dearlove added. “The CTS site in Kitchener would be one that would be recommended that people use there so that they would be supervised and can get lifesaving treatment if that’s needed. As well as the Safe Supply program, which provides legal pharmaceutical opioids to participants to keep them away from the unregulated drug supply.”

If people do choose to use unregulated substances, Dearlove urges them to never use alone and to have a supply of naloxone available as more potent drugs may be increasingly dangerous.

“Especially with these types of substances that have been detected, it may require additional doses of naloxone, and that’s why it’s important that people have a supply of [naloxone] to make sure that they can try to reverse those overdoses. And then, of course, calling 911 and making sure that the paramedics can arrive as soon as possible.”

Dearlove added that there’s no reason not to call 911 because users of illegal substances may be protected under the Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act, which provides “some legal protection for people who experience or witness an overdose and call 911 or their local emergency number for help.” The act can protect people from charges of simple possession and breach of conditions.

Dearlove also encourages people throughout the region to consider carrying naloxone.

“It’s very easy to use. Naloxone is meant to be easy to use by anybody, and people should carry it with them even it they are not somebody that uses substances, or don’t know anybody who uses substances. You never know when it might come in handy. A lot of pharmacies have it available if you ask. The pharmacist can do the quick training. It really only takes one minute to figure out how to use it.” Top Stories

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