Overdose rise raises concerns, with some calling for new strategy to battle opioid crisis
LONDON, ONT. -- An alarming rise in overdoes in St. Thomas recently have police and a peer support group concerned.
The opioid crisis continues to worsen across the country, including in smaller cities like St. Thomas, where there has been a spike in overdoes in the past two weeks.
“I know that in the last 11 days there has been 16 overdoses in the city,” says Vicki Woolley, who is a peer supporter with the Psychiatric Support Network of Elgin.
She adds the rise in overdoses is because of the dangerous opioid fentanyl. “Most of the overdoes are from fentanyl, whether it be knowing they are taking fentanyl or not knowing the drug they are taking is laced with fentanyl.”
St. Thomas Police are concerned of the rising trend as well. “The level of potency, or the level of toxicity in the fentanyl that people are using is very high,” says Tanya Calvert, a spokesperson for St. Thomas Police Service.
This is leading to another disturbing trend, involving the lifesaving drug Naloxone, or Narcan.
Calvert says lately, one or two doses haven’t been enough to revive someone. There have been cases where as many as seven deployments of Narcan have been used to revive someone.
“When someone suffers an accidental overdose and have been using with others, they’ve exhausted their rounds of Narcan and then make a 911 call for more.”
The trend, has people like Woolley calling for a safe injection site, using a safe supply of opioids to curb the dangerous rise in overdoses.
“I know some people think that’s not going to cure the problem, and it’s not. Because they are going to use whether we tell them to or not, but it’s going to be safe.”
Last month Canada’s police chiefs recommended the decriminalization for simple possession of illicit drugs, saying it is the most effective way to battle substance abuse, as people are hesitant to call for help in an overdose situation for fear of arrest.