An increase in fatal overdoses has been observed in Montreal over the past few months. These overdoses seem to be caused by heroin or cocaine, regardless of the method of consumption (shooting, snorting, or smoking.) These incidents are especially alarming considering that overdoses caused by smoking or snorting are highly uncommon, yet have recently become a frequent occurrence. This is caused in part by the increased presence of fentanyl in heroine and other drugs, which is a substance 50-100 times more potent than heroine.
If you are a drug user, there are ways to protect yourself and possibly prevent an overdose. Buy from someone you know or trust, and try not to use when you’re alone, but if you have to, leave your door unlocked. If you’re not sure where your batch comes from, start by taking a very small amount (not enough to get you high). It’s not a good idea to rely on the absence of an unusual smell, taste, or appearance as an indicator of a good batch.
Despite this rash of overdoses, Naloxone, the opioid antidote, has still not been authorized by the Ministère de la santé et des Services sociaux (MSSS) to be made available to street workers and other non-medical professionals. Naloxone is available anywhere else in Canada and the United States and has saved hundreds of lives from opium-induced overdoses. In Quebec, however, it can only be administered in hospitals, and only 20 health professionals in Montreal currently have access to Naloxone. The Quebec government is currently working on allowing ambulance workers to administer the antidote within the next few weeks. However, folks from the CRAN and Méta d’Âme predict that the expansion of access to Naloxone to streetworkers, community members, friends and family members won’t happen until the fall. So far, one person has died from an overdose everyday since mid-May, in Montreal.
With NDG being a more isolated neighborhood of Montreal, our streetworker Sara has noticed a higher probability that people use when they’re alone. If you or someone you know might use alone, and want someone to be around, contact Sara at 514-377-9858 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.