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Timmins-area opioid overdoses reach crisis level, officials say


Over the past week, the Porcupine Health Unit has issued two alerts warning people about an increase in the number of opioid overdoses and deaths in the Timmins-area.

Health officials in the area told CTV News the issue has now reached a crisis level.

Since March 2, the Timmins’ Opioid Emergency Response Task Force has issued two warnings about suspected opioid overdoses and deaths.

"Since then we have had more tragic outcomes,” said Tina Brunet with the health unit.

“As a task force (we decided) that we really need to hammer into people’s minds that this is a crisis right now."

According to health officials in the area, the street supply of opioids may be laced with sedatives. These laced drugs may be one of the reasons for the increase in calls and deaths.

“They can affect someone’s time (that they are) out and so they won’t rouse as quickly,” said Brunet.

“(It) increases their risk of death by having an opioid in their system as well as one of these sedatives.”

Officials said that more naloxone is needed to reverse an overdose when sedatives are also present in the patient.

“We want you to have enough naloxone on hand to be able to push it every two to three minutes if you’re in a situation where you can help someone,” said Brunet.

Brunet told CTV News that people need to be reminded that inhalation or smoking of the drugs is just as risky for overdose deaths.

Jean Carriere is Cochrane District’s Chief Paramedic and said his crews have responded to four suspected opioid-related deaths in the past couple of weeks.

Carriere said “never use alone.”

“It may not be the people who are using that are going to see this, but it’ll be their family, their loved ones, their friends who can absolutely point this out,” he said.

The Health Unit said in its releases, this is not just a Timmins issue, reports are coming from other communities in the area it serves and everyone needs to be prepared.

Paramedics also told CTV News that there is a misconception that only people who are homeless are overdosing.

Carriere said paramedics are responding to calls from people throughout the city – even from people who live with their families. Top Stories

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