Health unit providing resources for opioid addiction
Help is here to fight the problem of opioid addictions that is hitting close to home.
The Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit is promoting harm reduction programs and services that are available in Northumberland County, Haliburton County and the City of Kawartha Lakes.
By raising awareness of these harm reduction efforts, the goal is to address the negative effects of highly-addictive drugs, reduce the spread of illness, and ultimately save lives.
“We know there is a growing problem of opioid-related addictions, overdoses and deaths in our communities, so it is important we take steps to counteract this situation,” says Karen Taylor, a public health nurse with the HKPR District Health Unit.
Providing free naloxone kits/training and needle exchange programs are vital harm reduction services that address substance misuse and addiction, adds Angela Andrews, a health promoter with the HKPR District Health Unit.
“Harm reduction means taking steps to prevent or reduce the risk of injury and illness,” she says. “So when we offer free naloxone kits, provide clean needles, and safe disposal options, we are promoting harm reduction. It’s no different than we encourage people to use seatbelts or apply sunscreen.”
Locally, people can access these harm reduction services:
Free naloxone kits and training are available through health unit offices in Port Hope, Lindsay, and Haliburton. Naloxone is an emergency medicine that temporarily reverses the effects of an opioid overdose until the victim can get to hospital for treatment. Many local police and emergency responders already carry naloxone, and free kits are provided at many local pharmacies. People can go online (www.ontario.ca/naloxone) to search for additional locations in their community.
Needle exchange programs (NEPs) are also based in all three local health unit offices, providing clean needles and equipment free-of-charge to individuals who inject and inhale drugs. NEPs help to reduce the spread of infections like HIV and Hepatitis B and C, which can occur if someone shares equipment/needles for drugs. The program allows trained health unit staff to connect with individuals who may be looking for treatment options or other support programs. Other NEP locations in the area can also be found by visiting the Ontario Harm Reduction Distribution Program website (www.ohrdp.ca/find/find-a-needle-syringe-program).
Mobile Van Outreach Services (http://parn.ca/mobile-van-outreach-services) are provided throughout Northumberland County and the City of Kawartha Lakes. Led by PARN – Your AIDS Resource Network, this outreach service is staffed by harm reduction and health workers who provide safer injection and inhalation supplies, needle disposal, overdose prevention tools including naloxone, and information on testing, mental health and addictions supports. More information is available by calling PARN at 1-800-361-2895.
To learn more on harm reduction efforts and services, contact the health unit at 1-866-888-4577 or visit www.hkpr.on.ca.
Submitted by HKPR Health Unit