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Officials warn of increase in drug-related overdoses across eastern Ontario


Health units across eastern Ontario have issued a warning about an increase in drug-related overdoses over the past few weeks.

The Eastern Ontario Health Unit says there were five drug-related overdoses in Cornwall on June 1, while the Renfrew County and District Health Unit says there has been a "sharp rise" in overdoses and negative drug reactions in the last three days.

Meantime, the Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington Public Health is warning about a recent rise in drug-involved poisonings and associated symptoms in the last two weeks in the region. Health officials say indicators suggest an increase in the presence in carfentanil in the unregulated drug supply.


Health officials in Cornwall are warning of an increase in drug-related overdoses in the city this week.

Officials say they do not know if there is a specific substance that is leading to the overdoses, but there has been an increase in substances that contain a dangerous mix of fentanyl, benzodiazepines, and other substances over the past two years.

"We are seeing an alarming rise in overdose events in and around the City of Cornwall," Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, Medical Officer of Health, said in a statement.

"Safety precautions such as naloxone kits can save lives in these situations, but it’s also important to call 911. Naloxone will only work to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose and will not work on other drugs."

Renfrew County

The Renfrew County and District Health Unit and the Renfrew Paramedic Service are reporting a "sharp rise" in overdoses over the past three days.

"Although specific substance(s) related to the overdoses have not been confirmed, it is important to remember that all street drugs must be considered highly toxic and potentially fatal," officials said.

Kingston area

Health officials in Kingston are reporting a "notable increase" in drug-involved poisonings in the past two weeks.

"Partner agencies also report an increase in clients experiencing prolonged deep sedation, and indicators suggest a recent increase in the presence of carfentanil in the unregulated drug supply," the health unit said in a statement.

"The unregulated drug supply is unpredictable and drug poisonings are increasingly complicated. It is vital that people do not use drugs alone and 911 is called immediately for emergency medical care when drug poisoning is suspected."

Carfentanil is a form of fentanyl and was invented for use on large animals.

Overdose prevention and safety tips

The Eastern Ontario Health Unit says the best way to prevent an overdose is to avoid the unregulated drug supply and only use prescription medications. If you use unregulated drugs, officials recommend the following tips:

  • Never use alone.
  • If you are going to use alone, call the National Overdose Response Service at 1-888-688-6677
  • Use only where help is available
  • Don’t mix drugs
  • Take a test dose and wait before taking more of the drug
  • Get a free naloxone kit that can help to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose
  • Use only new drug paraphernalia supplies and avoid sharing supplies to reduce your risk of getting or passing on an infectious disease Top Stories

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