International Overdose Awareness Day: August 31

Did you know that May 2019 was the busiest month ever for reported opioid overdoses in the Waterloo region? It’s scary to think about, but with International Overdose Awareness Day coming this month, now’s as good a time as any to highlight the importance of overdose prevention. The lives and wellbeing of many local residents are influenced by whether their communities can work with them to ensure their safety, comfort, and protection in the event of hardship. Let’s examine the situation in more detail.

Proactive Planning

Addictions are very difficult to combat and there should be precautions in place to prevent overdoses from occurring, especially since many drugs such as opioids can potentially lead to long-term neural damage and reduced mental health. There’s a misconception that individuals struggling with addiction are “safe” as long as they stay alive, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, some patients treated by paramedics for an overdose will refuse further care, thinking they’re fine. We need to be prepared to address such circumstances, helping get past this denial phase. Local paramedics are attempting to help change public opinion by handing out resources to help individuals seek out further treatment. Knowledge really is power in such situations!

The Numbers Don’t Lie

From January to May 2019, Waterloo-area paramedics responded to a whopping 613 opioid overdose calls – almost double what it was the year before in the same timeframe! While the public naloxone program is helping cut down on outright deaths, it doesn’t fix the situation itself. That’s why areas such as Kitchener are setting up interim supervised consumption sites, one of which was just Health Canada approved and will be opening within the month. The shared goal of these sites is to curb the use and abuse of opioids, slowly but surely helping folks transition into seeking treatment. This, again, is done by informing them of the dangers of overdosing and how expert help can help them regain control of their everyday lives. 

By limiting the influence of sheer dependence, local residents can contribute more towards life in the area and help the Waterloo region become an even more enticing place to call home – but all of this is secondary. Above all else, they’ll be healthier, safer and be happier with their addictions more readily left in the past. It takes work and determination, but the results are tangible if you try hard enough and keep at it! Be sure to understand the symptoms of addiction and get help now to stay out of its grip!

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