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Free naloxone kits distributed by health unit

By Valerie MacDonald, Northumberland Today

Peterborough AIDS Resource Network prevention and education co-ordinator Chris Jardin, who is a member of the Harm Reduction Programming Committee of the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit, holds up a vile of Naloxone from a kit containing administration tools.
VALERIE MACDONALD/Northumberland Today file photo

Peterborough AIDS Resource Network prevention and education co-ordinator Chris Jardin, who is a member of the Harm Reduction Programming Committee of the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit, holds up a vile of Naloxone from a kit containing administration tools. VALERIE MACDONALD/Northumberland Today file photo

Free naloxone kits to counter the risk of overdoses of opioids, including fentanyl, are now being distributed through the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit offices at 200 Rose Glen Road in Port Hope.

The kit is a stop-gap measure before the overdosed person goes to hospital.

Of the three geographic areas the local health unit covers, Haliburton County had the third highest rate of opioid deaths in Ontario, local health board members were told earlier this year. Kawartha Lakes and Northumberland County statistics were significantly less but any death is one too many, according to the presentation made at that time.

“The Ontario Drug Policy Research Network reports 19 opioid-related deaths in Northumberland County between the years 2009 to 2013,” Denise Smith stated in an e-mail. “Public Health Ontario’s data shows an average of 10 opioid related deaths per year were reported during 2011-2015 for all of Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit areas. The rates of opioid-related Emergency Department visits and opioid-related mortality were not statistically different (from)...the rest of Ontario at that time,” she also stated.

The risk of overdosing can also happens when prescription opioids are taken with other substances like Valium, Xanax or alcohol, Smith explained. It can occur when someone takes another person’s prescription for opioids, or when a person takes it while alone, or starts up after stopping the use of prescription opioids.

“The risk of opioid overdose knows no boundaries when it comes to age, gender, income, education or experience using opioids. The medical emergency of an opioid overdose occurs when a person consumes too much of an opioid drug for the body to handle.”

Asked who should get the naloxone kit, Smith replied: “We want you to get your free naloxone kit if you, or someone you know and care about has one or more of these risk factors.”

Naloxone “temporarily reverses the effects of an opioid overdose until the victim can get to the hospital for treatment,” states a health unit media release.

There is already widespread distribution of the kits, as well as at the local health unit office in Port Hope.

“Many local police and emergency responders already carry naloxone. Free kits are also available to people who use opioids, as well as their family and friends, at participating pharmacies in Haliburton County, Northumberland County and Kawartha Lakes. To find exact locations for free Naloxone kits, visit the Ontario government website (www.ontario.ca/page/where-get-free-naloxone-kit). Free naloxone kits are also available by calling PARN toll-free at 1-800-361-2895.”

vmacdonald@postmedia.com