OTTAWA -- The Ottawa Police Service is issuing a warning about an "alarming number" of overdoses in the city this year.

Officers have responded to 91 calls for service involving drug overdoses so far in 2021. Police say, "Tragically, 21 people have died in these cases."

In 2020, Ottawa Police responded to 542 calls for service related to overdoses. Eighty-three people died due to suspected drug overdoses in those cases.

"As a community we need to stay focused on the crisis of overdoses we are seeing," said Insp. Carl Cartright. "Anything can be cut with fentanyl. This means there is no way to be sure of what is exactly in drugs obtained from anywhere other than a pharmacy. If you get them from a friend, order them online, buy them from a dealer, or anywhere similar, you don’t know how toxic they may be."

All Ottawa police patrol officers carry Naloxone.

Police say just last week, officers responded to a call for an unconscious man suffering an overdose in the ByWard Market area.

"After assessing the man, Naloxone was administered and the man was revived."

Officers used Naloxone 115 times in 2020.

Ottawa police and its health partners offer tips to recognize signs of an opioid overdose:

  • Breathing will be slow or absent
  • Lips and nails are blue 
  • Person is not moving
  • Person may be choking
  • Person will make gurgling or snoring sounds
  • Person can’t be woken up
  • Skin feels cold and clammy
  • Pupils are tiny (also known as pinpoint)

Ottawa Public Health recommends the following for individuals who use drugs:

  • Never use alone – If you overdose when you are alone there will be no one there to help you. If you are using with someone else, don’t use at the same time;
  • Don’t mix drugs – Mixing with other drugs puts you at a higher risk of overdose;
  • Go slow – The quality of street drugs is unpredictable. Anything can be cut with Fentanyl or Carfentanil;
  • Know your tolerance - Your risk of overdose increases if you are a new user or haven’t used in more than three days;
  • If you use – Consider visiting one of the four Supervised Consumption and Treatment Services (CTS) locations in Ottawa.