Overdose Responses, Naloxone Use On The Rise In Windsor Essex

Tuesday July 7th, 2020

Posted at 11:16am

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Local opioid overdose responses and naloxone use are on the rise in Windsor Essex.

The Windsor Essex County Health Unit says Windsor Essex saw thirty-three confirmed opioid-related overdose visits to emergency departments in May. Between the beginning of June and June 21st the region saw twenty-one confirmed overdose visits to emergency departments.

“Opioid use and overdoses persist as a growing public health concern,” said Dr. Wajid Ahmed, Medical Officer of Health for Windsor Essex.

Dr. Ahmed says drug related emergency room visits between January and the end of March were higher than the same period in 2019. He says however hospital statistics do not capture the number of people who used a naloxone kit or did not call 911.

Naloxone, also known as Narcan, is a medication known as an “opioid antagonist” which is used to counter the effects of opioid overdose.

“We know through verbal reports from community partners that naloxone use is increasing as well as the number of overdose responses,” Dr. Ahmed said.

Dr. Ahmed says stress, anxiety and isolation being experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic can have a negative impact on substance use and those negative impacts can include relapse and risk for overdose.

“Combine these stressors with less access to services including mental health and addictions, primary care providers and positive social supports, individuals struggling can quickly develop problematic use that can lead to overdose,” he said.

Dr. Ahmed says people who use opioids or methamphetamine are also at increased risk of COVID-19 as “these drugs can slow their breathing and cause respiratory damage.”

He says group-based support and other local support services have changed or been disrupted during COVID-19 but  primary care providers can help individuals navigate treatment options. Drug users or their loved ones can also visit the mental health and addictions urgent care centre at 1400 Windsor Avenue, or call 519 257 5111 ext 77968, or call Family Services Windsor Essex at 1-888-939-1831.

Dr. Ahmed says those experiencing a drug crisis or their loved ones can call 519-973-4435.

He says opioid users who are looking to protect themselves should use practice physical distancing, should not use any drugs alone, should carry a naloxone kit, do not share pipes, needles or other equipment for substance use, and wash or sanitize your hands after every drug use.

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