Fentanyl Pandemic: an Opioid Overdose Crisis

revised June 18, 2021 

Too Many Lives Lost!                                                                                                                  

It is alarming to hear all the daily news reports that ‘Canada is experiencing an overdose crisis caused by a toxic illicit drug supply. Overdose deaths from fentanyl and other synthetic drugs have increased and people are dying from drug overdoses at unprecedented rates.’ (Nowell, 2021) 

In Regina, chief Evan Bray of the Regina Police Service (RPS) declared the drug overdose situation a “pandemic within a pandemic” as overdose numbers skyrocket through 2020 and now into 2021. (Eneas, 2020)

In May of 2021, RPS reminded the public in a press release that these individuals “are not strangers; they are someone’s child, spouse, sibling, or parent. We can all play a role in preventing these needless fatal events.” 

CMHA Regina Branch wants to help address the urgency of this devastating public health crisis by sharing information, tools, and resources to better equip the public, our neighbours and our community, in responding to this emergency.  

In May 2021, a Regina Pilot Project Overdose Prevention Site opened in our city. 

– To learn more about The Nēwo Yōtina Friendship Centre and overdose prevention site located on the corner of 11th Avenue and Osler Street in Regina, click here or below to read Jennifer Francis of CBC News’ report, posted: May 26, 2021. “Overdose Prevention Site Opens in Regina.”    [And click here for Newo Yotina’s Regina Pilot Overdose Prevention Site Information Guide]

– “With fatal overdoses devastating the city over the past year, advocates hope Regina’s first supervised injection site will help to start to turn things around”.  See report by Roberta Bell  from Global News Posted May 25, 2021. See article and WATCH:”First overdose prevention site in Regina officially opens”  – May 26, 2021

A monthly “Community Bulletin” can be found here: The Good Life Community Network .   Their bulletin lists community resources and supports, including contact info for “Counselling and Addictions Help” and local AA and NA meetings.

-The June 2021 issue includes the following report from AIDS Programs South Saskatchewan (APPS)  New Program – APSS OPIOID OVERDOSE PREVENTION PROGRAM (AOOPP) “Mental health, Substance use and overdoses, and increased risk of HIV & Sexually Transmitted Blood-Born Infections (STBBIs) overlap for the vulnerable in our communities. APSS has rolled out a new program to prevent Opioid overdoses in Regina in acknowledgement of this reality. 

On April 1st, 2021, APSS rolled out a two-year Health Canada’s Substance Use and Addictions Program (SUAP) supported APSS Opioid Overdose Prevention Program (AOOPP) to reduce opioid overdose mortality and hospitalizations in Regina. The activities under this program include saturating the at-risk population in Regina with naloxone education and naloxone kits, Opioid overdose risk reduction education, education on the Good Samaritan act, referrals to opioid substitution therapies, recovery programs, and client care to support access to recovery services.
APSS is particularly concerned about the adverse impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health and substance use.
We hope that more organizations with access to substance users get more involved with substance use overdose prevention.”

www.saskhealthauthority.ca Click here for Facts about street Fentanyl poster

Information, Tools, and Resources:  

Government of Canada 

Get Help with Problematic Substance Use

How to Talk to a Friend or Family Member about Drugs    

Saskatchewan Health Authority 

Saskatchewan Health Authority information on opioids

Addiction Services has information at http://www.rqhealth.ca/department/addiction-services/alcohol-and-drug-information

– “Your Community has Connections to Help”  

-Links to national evidence-based resources like:

B.C Fraser Health Authority has some additional resources on conversations with teens.  Fraserhealth.ca see: Health Topics >Mental Health and Substance Use >Overdose, prevention and response site provides information on(Fraser Health, 2021)

  1. Eneas, B. (2020, June 29). The pandemic within a pandemic: Regina’s      overdose numbers skyrocket through 2020. Regina, Saskatchewan: CBC. Retrieved from https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatchewan/pandemic-within-pandemic-regina-overdose-numbers-skyrocket-1.5630542
  2. Fraser Health. (2021). Start the conversation about overdose prevention. Retrieved from Fraser Health : https://www.fraserhealth.ca/health-topics-a-to-z/mental-health-and-substance-use/overdose-prevention-and-response/start-the-conversation-about-overdose-prevention
  3. Nowell, M. (2021). www.catie,ca. Retrieved from Catie: https://www.catie.ca/en/pif/spring-2021/safe-supply-what-it-and-what-happening-canada