Public Health Alert: Series of drug poisonings in five days

Fentanyl is the substance believed to be responsible for five of seven non-fatal drug overdoses that occurred in Grey-Bruce in the first five days of June and prompted Grey Bruce Public Health to issue a pair of overdose alerts to the community.

GBPH issued an initial overdose alert to community partners on June 3, 2024, after receiving notification of four non-fatal drug overdoses within a 48-hour period. A subsequent alert was issued on June 6, 2024, following reports of another three non-fatal overdoses.

Six of the overdoses occurred in Owen Sound, while one took place in Saugeen Shores.

A white/pink fentanyl powder was linked to one of the overdoses.

β€œIn light of this series of recent drug poisonings, Grey Bruce Public Health would like to reiterate the importance, for those who use unregulated street drugs, to exercise extreme caution with each and every dose,” says Monica Blair, Manager of GBPH’s Harm Reduction program.

People who use drugs are at significant risk of overdose due to the local street drug supply containing the highly toxic drugs Fentanyl and Fentanyl analogues.Β Public Health advises that all street drugs should be deemed potentially fatal.

GBPH urges people to have a sober friend with them when using drugs or to call or text the National Overdose Response Service (NORS) or use/download the BRAVE App if using alone. NORS can be reached by calling or texting 1-888-688-6677. A NORS operator will stay on the line with the person while the drug is used. In the event the person becomes unresponsive, NORS will call 911 to ensure help arrives.

Other harm reduction recommendations include:

  • Taking extra caution if mixing drugs. Mixing drugs, including alcohol, increases the risk of harm and overdose.
  • Going slow. Always start with a low dose and increase slowly, especially if trying something new or restarting use.
  • Using only new supplies and avoid sharing supplies. This reduces the risk of getting or passing on an infectious disease. Supplies are available at GBPH and community partners.
  • Getting overdose prevention training and carrying a Naloxone kit. Naloxone is available for free at most local pharmacies and at GBPH, Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. No appointment or prescription is needed.

Overdose is a medical emergency. Call 911 or go to the Emergency Department. The Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act provides protection from simple possession charges for everyone at the scene when 911 is called for an overdose.

For additional supports and services:

  • Suicide Crisis Helpline: 9-8-8
  • Connex Ontario: Call 1-866-531-2600 or text 247247
  • Ontario Addiction Treatment Service (OATC): 519-371-0007
  • Withdrawal Management/RAAM Clinic: 519-376-5666
  • G&B House: 519-371-3642 ext.1580
  • CMHA Grey Bruce Mental Health and Addiction Services: 519-371-3642
  • Rapid Access Addiction Medicine (RAAM) Clinic: 519-376-3999
  • National Overdose Response Service (NORS): 1-888-688-6677
  • If unsure – call 211