It’s been called a national epidemic.
Rates of Opioid related addiction and deaths are soaring across Canada, and it’s reached into the Quinte region as well.
Hastings and Prince Edward County now ranks in the top third in Ontario for the number of prescriptions for drugs such as oxycontin, morphine or fentanyl.
Dr. Piotr Ogalza: “We also rate among the top third in terms of the opioid-related emergency department visits. So that clearly tells you that there is a problem.”
A problem that led to 10 opioid-related deaths in Hastings County, and 5 fatalities in Prince Edward County, according to the latest statistics from 2013.
Opioid-based medications are used to treat chronic pain but are also highly addictive.
They’ve also become a popular drug for recreational use.
Dr. Piotr Ogalza: “Without appropriate help from addiction specialists, it would be very hard to manage the addiction. So the only way to manage the addiction would be to seek opioids.”
The Health Unit launched the ‘Life-saver program’ last summer in hopes of reversing the troubling trend. By offering free kits that contain a temporary antidote for opioid-related overdoses.
Stephanie McFaul: “We have two needles, and most importantly – this is the nolaxone itself. There’s two vials, two ampules of nolaxone.”
These life saving kits are available at 4 public health offices in Belleville, Trenton, Picton and Bancroft.
Stephanie McFaul: “So what the nolaxone does is that it actually replaces the receptors in the brain where the opioids were and allows someone to breathe again”
Public Health has handed out 50 kits so far, but if their needle exchange program is any indication, there are hundreds of residents across the Hastings and Prince Edward Counties who could benefit from the kits.