St Catharines hopes campaign brings awareness to overdoses within community

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Published September 1, 2021 at 2:38 pm

St Catharines Mayor Walter Sendzik says he hopes his city helps break the stigma around those who suffer from addiction by taking part in the International Overdose Awareness Day.

“The flags at City Hall have been lowered to remember community members who have tragically lost their lives to overdose and purple ribbons and crosses have been placed by community members in honour of their loved ones,” said Sendzik.

From yesterday (August 31) to September 6, the city will join forces with the Overdose Prevention and Education Network of Niagara (OPENN) to bring awareness to the impact that overdoses have had on young citizens and their families.

“It’s no secret that Niagara has seen an increase in dangerous street drugs and opioid overdoses, and this has become even more serious through the pandemic,” Sendzik said yesterday.

“Today, while we are supporting people who are struggling and families who are grieving, we are also taking action by talking about substance abuse and putting a focus on youth and teenagers who have increasingly easy access to dangerous street drugs.”

While free access to naloxone kits has been a life-saving resource for many, the dangers of opioid overdose is still a huge problem in Niagara.

In 2020, 150 people in Niagara died from confirmed opioid-related deaths – approximately 13 deaths per month. This year, from January to July, 2021 Niagara Emergency Medical Services responded to 509 suspected overdoses – approximately 73 per month in Niagara.

Increasingly, first responders are seeing the trend of youth and young people overdosing from dangerous street drugs laced with fentanyl which can be deadly.

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