Warning: tainted street drugs in northern Ontario

Issued: Monday, May 15, 2017

With recent reports of tainted street drugs in northern Ontario, the Community Drug Strategy for the City of Greater Sudbury, led by the Sudbury & District Health Unit and the Greater Sudbury Police Service, is warning the public to be aware of the serious risks posed by using street drugs.

“We are hearing reports of street drugs being cut with extremely small but lethal or very harmful amounts of other substances, such as opioids or, recently, levamisole,” explained Dr. Ariella Zbar, Sudbury & District Associate Medical Officer of Health. “Opioids like fentanyl can be lethal and have no smell, taste, and cannot be seen; whereas, levamisole can seriously harm the immune system.”

Recently, the Good Samaritan Overdose Act was passed by the Government of Canada. The Act provides an exemption from charges of simple possession of a controlled substance, as well as from charges concerning a pre-trial release, probation order, conditional sentence, or parole violations related to simple possession for people who call 911 for themselves or another person suffering an overdose, as well as anyone who is at the scene when emergency help arrives.

“Be a Good Samaritan and make the call. Calling 911 immediately when someone suffers a serious drug-related harm such as an overdose could save the person’s life,” said Staff Sergeant Richard Waugh, Greater Sudbury Police Service.

Specifically, to reduce the risk of an opioid overdose:

  • Get a naloxone kit and training on its use, and carry it with you.
  • Use drugs in the company of others and not alone.
  • Start with smaller amounts than usual and increase amounts gradually.
  • Call 911 immediately if something does not feel right. For all suspected overdoses, call 911, use naloxone, and start CPR.
  • Call 911 and give naloxone if someone has slow or absent breathing.

Naloxone is a medication used to reverse opioid overdoses and can be injected or sprayed in the nose. Naloxone kits and training are available to anyone who uses opioids or their friends and family at no cost at Réseau ACCESS Network and local pharmacies. For more information about where to access naloxone kits, visit www.ontario.ca/page/get-naloxone-kits-free.

The Health Unit continues to work with the Greater Sudbury Police Service and other members of the Community Drug Strategy to improve community health and address drug-related issues by increasing public awareness of drug use and misuse as a health issue.