London, Ontario is battling an ‘opioid epidemic’

Photo by Michael Longmire on Unsplash

Over the course of seven months, almost 100 dosages of naloxone were administered by London police to 59 different individuals who experienced opioid overdoses — of the total assisted, all but two survived.

Naloxone is a medication used to reverse the effects of opioid overdose by blocking opioid receptive sites in the body. It can restore a normal breathing rate within 3 to 5 minutes. Naloxone can be injected, but police are carrying a nasal spray of version of the drug for safety reasons.

In a press release, London police said that 96 dosages of the medication were administered between June 4th and December 31st, with some individuals requiring multiple doses.

London is in the midst of battling what some may call an opioid epidemic.

Opioids are a family of drugs, such as fentanyl, morphine, and heroin, that are often prescribed or illegally acquired to relieve pain. When opioid intake is misused or abused, it can lead to addiction, overdose, and death.

Due to concerns about a significant increase in fentanyl-related overdoses, the London police service was trained online by the Middlesex-London Health Unit to utilize naloxone kits to provide immediate assistance to those suffering from opioid overdoses.

In the press release, Deputy Chief Steve Williams had the following to say about the drug abuse problem in London: “Fentanyl and other opioids continue to be a significant issue […] We are going to these types of calls too often but, fortunately, we have been able to help a significant number of people”.

August had the highest rate of overdoses reported by the police department, with 19 individuals being administered a total of 30 dosages of naloxone, and one death.

Police are urging anyone who is at risk of an overdose, and their friends or family, to ensure that they are prepared to deal with the situation by obtaining a free naloxone kit available through some pharmacies and community groups.

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Fiona Huynh

Academic pieces from my time as a Media and Digital Communications student at Western University.