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Public Health warns of high risk of drug overdose in KFL&A

Photo by Michael Longmire.

An extremely toxic batch of drugs circulating in the Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington (KFL&A) region, prompting the local Health Unit to issue a warning to local residents.

According to Public Health, drug toxicology reports from recent weeks indicate the presence of fentanyl, carfentanil, and benzodiazepine analogues in the local drug supply. Hospital visit data reflects a record-high number of opioid overdoses in the region for late April and early May.

Our local harm reduction partners and health care providers report a high number of complex overdoses. These overdoses may occur instantly and result in prolonged sedation, incontinence, and disorientation that can last for hours. Partners have recently observed beige/yellow coloured drugs; however, in general, there continues to be a range of colours,”KFL&A Public Health said in a press release on Monday, May 17, 2021.

Public Health indicated that, since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the local drug supply has become more contaminated and unpredictable, increasing the drug poisoning (or overdose). In recent months, several regions across Ontario have issues “extended overdose alerts” to warn residents of ongoing risk, they said, reiterating that drugs of any colour could be contaminated.

As a result, KFL&A Public Health is urging all those who use drugs not to mix drugs, to do test amounts, to never use along, and to have a Naloxone Kit. Find out more about Naloxone Kits from Public Health here.

“Using drugs alone is a major risk factor for experiencing a fatal overdose and is not recommended even with the risk of COVID-19. Instead, practice physical distancing when using drugs around other people and make sure someone is present who knows how to use naloxone and call 9-1-1. In some cases, multiple doses of naloxone may be needed to reverse an overdose. Residents are encouraged to always call 9-1-1 if an overdose is suspected, as an overdose is a medical emergency,” KFL&A Public Health said.

“If no one else is present, connect virtually with someone you know that can call for help before you consume drugs. The National Overdose Response Service, an anonymous, non-judgemental support line, is also available 24 hours a day, seven days a week and can call for help if needed – for example, if you experience an overdose after consuming drugs.”

Additionally, KFL&A Public Health said the local Consumption and Treatment Service (CTS) is located within the Integrated Care Hub at 661 Montreal Street in Kingston, and is open seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. The CTS provides a safe and supportive place where anyone who wants to consume drugs can do so under supervision of people who are trained to respond to drug poisonings. The Rapid Access Addictions Medicine Clinic at Street Health Centre is open Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1 to 4 p.m. for anyone who wants helps with a substance use disorder. For more information about support options, visit KFL&A Public Health’s Getting Help page.

All residents areencouraged to be aware of the signs of an opioid overdose and pick up a free naloxone kit. Free kits are available at the following locations:

  • KFL&A Public Health (Kingston office): Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
  • Street Health Centre: Monday to Sunday 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1 to 4 p.m.
  • HIV/AIDS Regional Services: Monday to Thursday 9:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1 to 4:30 p.m.
  • Integrated Care Hub: Open seven days per week, 23 hours per day (closed daily from 10 to 11 a.m.)
  • Napanee and Area Community Health Centre: Monday to Friday 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. and 1 to 3 p.m.
  • St. Vincent de Paul Society of Kingston: Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • Martha’s Table: Monday to Sunday 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • Home Base Housing Street Outreach Team: Monday to Saturday 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Change Health Care: Monday to Friday 6:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Saturday to Sunday 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.

For more locations, visit https://www.ontario.ca/page/where-get-free-naloxone-kit

Lastly, KFL&A Public Health is reminding residents that an overdose is a medical emergency. Anyone who suspects or witnesses an overdose should call 9-1-1, andthe Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act provides some legal protection against simple drug possession charges for anyone who experiences, witnesses or responds to an overdose and calls 9-1-1. 

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