KFL&A Public Health reports 50 per cent increase in drug poisonings

Kingstonist file photo.

Late in the day on Thursday, Feb. 29, 2024, Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington (KFL&A) Public Health issued a public alert after local consumption and treatment services (CTS) authorities reported a 50 per cent increase in drug poisoning.

Calling the situation “concerning,” KFL&A Public Health said that CTS in Kingston reported the 50 per cent increase in “apparent drug poisonings” since Saturday, Feb. 24, 2024 — less than a week before the local health unit issued the alert. Public Health also stated that CTS in Kingston has reported an increase in clients experiencing “very prolonged deep sedation and hallucinations.”

“It has been reported that these drug poisonings are not responding well to naloxone,” KFL&A Public Health said in a press release.

“Similar observations are being noted this week by other community partners who provide programs and services to people who use drugs.”

The local public health organization said that while data about the composition of the unregulated drug supply locally is not currently available, “other Ontario jurisdictions have reported the presence of potent tranquilizers in the unregulated supply.”

“These observations highlight the continued unpredictability and toxicity of the unregulated drug supply in our communities,” Public Health said.

The organization also said it is “vital” that people do not use drugs alone, and that 911 be called immediately for emergency medical care if and when a drug poisoning is suspected.

“While naloxone may not reverse the effects of a contaminant, it will still help reverse the effects of an opioid. Consider carrying multiple doses of naloxone,” KFL&A Public Health emphasized.

The Health Unit said it is informing key partners, expanding access to naloxone kits and other harm reduction measures, and continuing to work on preventing drug harms. At the same time, however, Public Health is “urging” people to do the following:

· Avoid using drugs alone: “If you use alone, tell someone before you use and have a safety plan that includes having someone check in with you.” Public Health suggested several alternatives:

  • Use with a friend or family member present or virtually, alternating use if both are using drugs.
  • Access a supervised consumption service in person at Consumption and Treatment Services at 661 Montreal Street in Kingston, or virtually by calling the National Overdose Response Service at 1-888-688-NORS (6677)
  • Avoid using more than one drug at a time, including alcohol.
  • Go slowly: The quality of unregulated drugs is unpredictable.
  • Get a free naloxone kit and training to use it. Always carry it with you.
  • Seek medical treatment.

“If you have a friend or family member who uses drugs, share the above safety information with them and get a free naloxone kit and training,” KFL&A Public Health concluded.

More information on harm reduction can be found on the KFL&A Public Health website.

According to Public Health, CTS is “a safe, supportive space where people may engage in the supervised consumption of their substances.”

“This supervision reduces the likelihood of harmful outcomes like fatal overdoses and is an extension of existing harm reduction programs that provide easy-to-access, life-saving harm reduction services in a stigma-free environment, to help reduce the growing number of opioid-related overdose deaths,” the organization relayed.

Public Health pointed to the following as services CTS provides:

  • Supervised injection
  • Harm reduction supplies, including disposal of used supplies
  • Naloxone
  • Connection with community support workers.

Kingston’s CTS is located within the Integrated Care Hub at 661 Montreal Street. Public Health said that anyone is welcome to come to CTS, which is open seven days a week between 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. CTS is a drop-in service and does not require an appointment or a referral to access the site, KFL&A Public Health said.

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