Police and local community leaders have recognized that there is a significant concern for professional agencies and groups as well as the general public with the overuse and abuse of opioids (including Heroin, Fentanyl, Oxycodone) within the communities of Nottawasaga.
A Nottawasaga Opioid Advisory Working Group has recently been formed to assist with addressing this concern. The working group is comprised of local professional agencies and groups who are regularly involved or come in contact with members of the community that are a regular user of opioids or individuals who have knowledge of the extent that opioids are causing harm in the community.
The professional agencies and groups who have formed the local working group includes members from the Nottawasaga Detachment of the OPP, Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit, South Simcoe Police Service, Stevenson Memorial Hospital, Ontario Addiction Treatment Centres, local pharmacists, mental health and addictions treatment workers, and local shelters.
The objective of the working group will be to collectively work together to pursue an evidence based approach to understanding the overall concern that the use and misuse of opioids is having in the various Nottawasaga communities and specifically promote collaborative efforts on prevention, treatment, harm reduction and enforcement initiatives.
“The creation of the Nottawasaga Opioid Advisory Working Group is a valuable opportunity to effectively manage cooperation and communication amongst agencies and groups to achieve goals and priorities focusing on opioid drugs with our local communities,” says Nottawasaga OPP Detachment Commander, Inspector Steve Clegg
The working group will meet quarterly with one or two representatives from each agency or group and will:
- Sustain/develop relationships amongst community stakeholders;
- Identify priorities through collaborative discussions;
- Discuss ongoing and future harm reduction, prevention and treatment strategies;
- Leverage training; and
- Promote a coordinated approach to addressing local opioid concerns across our communities.
“It is important to understand that fentanyl can be added to any drug and cause an overdose,” said the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit’s Barbara Foster. “Overdoses can be prevented by not mixing drugs, not using alone, starting with a small amount, and by recognizing the symptoms of an overdose. Also, have Naloxone available, a medication that can temporarily reverse the effects of an overdose related to opioids. An overdose is a medical emergency and anyone that suspects an overdose should immediately call 911, even if Naloxone has been given.”
The Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act provides some legal protection for individuals who seek emergency help during an overdose. Naloxone kits are free and available at many pharmacies with a Health Card or from the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit and Ontario Addiction Treatment Centres.