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Two more opioid deaths as Woodstock considers supervised consumption


A public health opioid advisory has been issued in Oxford County after two people died on the weekend after overdosing on purple fentanyl. Several more suffered non-lethal poisonings, according to Southwestern Public Health.

Word of the deaths travelled quickly through Woodstock. Keith, who CTV News London met in downtown Woodstock, and didn’t want to share his last name, said he knows what it’s like to lose someone close to a drug overdose.

“Couple of close friends. Just all of a sudden get the word. It’s hard, heartbreaking,” he said.

Southwestern Public Health nurse Lisa Gillespie wants users of street level drugs to understand that no amount is safe, and the opioids that find their way to the streets are often laced with other substances.

“There’s differing levels of opioid fentanyl in the drug supply,” she explained. “But we also know that there’s other drugs in the supply as well, such as benzodiazepines, which actually increase sedation and increase risk of overdose. So again, the message: there’s no safe level, and never use alone, get a naloxone kit, use a small amount first. Get that ambulance called,” she said.

The two deaths and the non-fatal overdoses come at a time with the Southwestern Public Health Board of Health is considering establishing supervised consumption sites in both Elgin and Oxford counties.

Woodstock Mayor Jerry Acchione said while he doesn’t want such a facility in Woodstock’s downtown, he’s still considering all the factors on whether to support one at all.

“You’re going to hear a lot from the public,” said Acchione. “A lot of businesses are certainly against the idea. But again, until we know where it’s going to be, who’s going to do it, how it’s going to run, what hours, and everything else. Is it going to be effective? I’m really not convinced yet.”

Dundas Street in Woodstock, Ont. is seen on Sept. 6, 2023. (Bryan Bicknell/CTV News London) A public meeting on a proposed supervised consumption site for Woodstock is scheduled for Sept. 26.

As for Keith, he also feels such a facility doesn’t belong downtown. But he said one is definitely needed somewhere in the community that’s easily accessible for those who need it.

“I would say a location for consumption where there’s eyes on people because it can happen so quickly and so easily,” he said.



Meanwhile, Grey Bruce Public Health (GBPH) has also issued opioid alerts in response to several overdoses reported in the county over the weekend, including one fatal overdose.

Over the past four days, one fatal overdose and seven non-fatal overdoses were reported to GBPH.

Six of the overdoses were reported in Owen Sound.

The GBPH said fentanyl is the suspected drug in at least two of the overdoses, and that toxicology results are still pending.

As a result, opioid alerts were issued on Sunday and again on Tuesday.

GBPH reminds residents that all unregulated street drugs carry a high risk of toxicity, which poses “a potential threat to life.” The drugs could be mixed with hazardous substances such as fentanyl or carfentanil, both of which lack a smell and taste.

“Even a minuscule amount of fentanyl or carfentanil can have lethal consequences,” GBPH warned.



GBPH recommends that people who are going to use drugs should never use alone and should always carry a naloxone kit. People are also advised to go slow, take extra caution if mixing substances, to use only new supplies and avoid sharing supplies as well.

If using with another person nearby is not possible, people can call the National Overdose Response Service at 1-888-688-6677. An operator will remain on the line while the drug is being used, and in the event the caller becomes unresponsive, will call 9-1-1.

Anyone who suspects someone of experiencing an overdose is advised to administer naloxone, which is available for pickup for free at participating pharmacies in Grey-Bruce, Grey Bruce Public Health, and via GBPH’s community partners. Top Stories

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