HPE Public Health to Launch Overdose Prevention Program | Hastings Prince Edward Public Health

HPE Public Health to Launch Overdose Prevention Program

Hastings and Prince Edward Counties/ August 31, 2016 - Hastings Prince Edward Public Health (HPEPH) is launching a new program to address the critical public health issue of opioid drug overdose in Ontario. The community-based Naloxone distribution program, called the Lifesaver Program, intends to reduce avoidable deaths resulting from opioid overdose. 

Announced today, which is the 5th Annual International Overdose Awareness Day, the Lifesaver Program will be fully launched this fall as a new component of harm reduction efforts at HPEPH. The program will be offered to individuals currently taking opioids, or those who have taken opioids in the past.  Naloxone is a safe, effective, and non-addictive medication that reverses the potentially fatal effects of an opioid overdose.

These overdose prevention efforts are more important than ever, considering our country is facing a drug safety crisis. Approximately 50,000 Ontarians are addicted to opioids[1], and Ontario saw 675 opioid-related deaths in 2014 alone[2]

The HPEPH Lifesaver Program involves training clients to recognize the signs of overdose and use Naloxone to save lives.  Clients will be provided with a Lifesaver kit that contains all the supplies necessary to administer Naloxone in the event of an overdose. A key component of the program will also involve ensuring clients understand the importance of calling 911 as soon as they suspect an opioid overdose to initiate emergency response and support.

HPEPH is working alongside many other public health units across Ontario, and answering the Association of Local Public Health Agencies’ call for an immediate and coordinated response to the unacceptably high number of preventable deaths attributed to the use of opioids.  HPEPH staff will continue to work with community partners to develop and support harm reduction programs to reduce the negative harms associated with problematic opioid use.


Media Contact :
Emily Tubbs
Communications Specialist
Hastings Prince Edward Public Health
613-848-4944 or etubbs@hpeph.ca

[1] alPHa, April 2016
[2] Office of the Chief Coroner of Ontario

Opioid Overdose and HPEPH Naloxone Program

  • Opioids are found in both illegal and prescription drugs. Examples of opioids include heroin, fentanyl, morphine, oxycodone (OxyContin), methadone, hydrocodone (Vicodin), codeine, and other prescription pain medications. 
  • As of June 2015, Ontario had witnessed 13 years of increasing and record setting opioid overdose fatalities, claiming more than twice the number of drivers killed in motor vehicle collisions, and ranking as the third leading cause of accidental death in the province.[3] 
  • In Alberta, deaths from bootleg fentanyl spiked 4,500% from 2011-2015, providing a glimpse of what could unfold in Ontario.[4] 
  • Opioid overdose can slow or stop breathing, slow heart rate and blood pressure, reduce body temperature and cause the victim to be unresponsive. They may also experience a seizure or a heart attack. 
  • Naloxone is an effective antidote for overdoses by blocking the effects of opioids by temporarily replacing them in the brain’s receptor sites and restoring normal breathing in the victim. 
  • Since the launch of the Naloxone program at Kingston Frontenac Lennox and Addington Public Health in September 2015, 300 Lifesaver Kits have been distributed and have saved 25 lives. Since the launch of the same program at Leeds and Grenville Public Health Unit in December 2014, 95 Lifesaver Kits have been distributed and have saved 11 lives. 
  • HPEPH distributed over 300,000 needles in 2015 as part of our larger harm reduction strategies. While opioids are not limited to injection drugs, these numbers demonstrate the need for enhanced overdose prevention efforts in our own region.

About Hastings Prince Edward Public Health

Hastings Prince Edward Public Health (HPEPH) operates one of 36 health units across Ontario. HPEPH provides dozens of programs and services, along with reliable health information, to a population of approximately 150,000 people in a 7,000 square km catchment area encompassing 17 municipalities. HPEPH's mission is to enable the people in Hastings and Prince Edward Counties to achieve and maintain optimal health through health protection and promotion, as well as disease and injury prevention. For more information, please visit www.hpepublichealth.ca. You can also find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.


[3] Municipal Drug Strategy Co-ordinator’s Network of Ontario Prescription for Life. Toronto. June 2015.

[4] alPHa April 2016