Opioid overdose: what you can do

  • If you see someone having an overdose
  • What does an overdose look like?
  • Get a naloxone kit and training for how to use it
  • Use drugs as safely as possible
  • How naloxone can save someone
  1. If you see someone having an overdose
    1. Phone 911 right away if you think someone is overdosing.
    2. Until help arrives:
      • be ready to give mouth-to-mouth resuscitation ‒ this puts you at a higher risk of catching COVID-19;
      • you may also have to give the person naloxone (Narcan), if it's available. A 2nd dose is often required.

    If you have to leave someone unattended:

    Put the person in the recovery position. This braces the person so they will not roll either onto their front or back.

    1. Roll the person onto their side.
    2. Move their free leg forward so their knee and lower leg touch the ground and act as a brace in front of them.
    3. Bring their free arm in front of their face, bend their arm at their elbow and tuck their hand under their head so it's braced.

    Be prepared

  2. What does an overdose look like?

    An overdose can happen when you take too much of an opioid. Opioids affect the part of your brain that controls your breathing. When you take more opioids than your body can handle, your breathing slows. This can lead to unconsciousness and even death.

    Early signs of an overdose

    • Breathing slow or not at all
    • Cannot be woken up or not moving
    • Pupils are tiny
    • Choking, gurgling sounds or snoring
    • Cold and clammy skin
    • Dizziness and confusion
    • Lips and nails become pale, or turn gray or blue
    • Trouble walking or talking
    • A lack of pain response

    If you recognize the signs you could save someone’s life.

  3. Get a naloxone kit and training for how to use it

    How much does a kit cost?

    The naloxone kit is free.

    Get training to use a kit

    You can take a 20 to 40-minute training session to learn how to use the kit and identify the signs of overdoses when you pick up your free kit. The kits include: 3 syringes, 3 vials of naloxone, gloves, a CPR face shield, and alcohol wipes.

    Once you are trained, let those around you know. Keep your kit in a safe place that is easily accessible.

    Naloxone kit distribution sites

    Check the expiry date of your kit

    Naloxone has a shelf life of about 2 years. If you have a kit that was not used, check the expiry date. You'll find the expiry date on the vials or on the back of the kit. To be sure you renew your kit in time, put a reminder for the expiry date on your phone or a calendar.

    Exchange your old kit for a new kit

    If you have a kit that's used, expired or expiring, you can get fresh naloxone at:

    • any distribution sites; or
    • contact us phone 867-332-0722.

    Can you use an expired kit?

    If you have a kit with expired naloxone and find someone having an overdose, you can still use it. You may need to use more naloxone because it loses effectiveness as it ages.

    How to keep your kit

    Keep your naloxone kit at room temperature. Do not keep it in your car where it might freeze or overheat.

  4. Use drugs as safely as possible

    5 things to remember

    • Never use opioids alone.
    • Use opioids in places where help is easily available.
    • Start with a small amount.
    • Do not mix opioids with other subtances, such as alcohol and benzodiazepines. Mixing increases the risk of an overdose.
    • Get your drugs tested at Blood Ties Four Directions.

    Why are we concerned about fentanyl?

    What is fentanyl?

    • Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid narcotic.
    • It's a prescription drug used primarily for cancer patients in severe pain.

    How toxic is fentanyl?

    This drug is roughly 50 to 100 times more toxic than morphine.
    Be aware that heroin, cocaine, oxycodone, and other drugs can be “cut” (diluted or addition) with fentanyl, in powder, liquid or pill form.

    Handle fentanyl carefully

    Use caution if you handle fentanyl. You can absorb it through mucous membranes. This means if you get any fentanyl on your skin, avoid touching your:

    • eyes;
    • nose; and
    • mouth.

    Prescribed fentanyl

    Fentanyl prescribed by your doctor is safe if you use it as prescribed. Be careful if you're also using other substances which may suppress breathing, such as:

    • alcohol;
    • benzodiazepines (like librium and valium); or
    • other non-prescribed drugs.

    Get your drugs tested

    Fentanyl-related overdoses are on the rise across Canada. Sometimes dealers “cut” (deluded or addition) drugs they sell to you with fentanyl. You will not see the fentanyl, smell it or taste it, but it can kill you.

    You can get your drugs tested for fentanyl at Blood Ties
    Phone: 867-633-2437
    In person: 405 Ogilvie Street

    Keep medication and drugs in a secure place

    Remember to keep your medication and drugs:

    • in a secure place, and
    • out of reach of children and pets.

    Prescribed medication and side effects

    • If you’re having any side effects, phone your doctor.
    • If you experience serious side effects, phone 911.
  5. How naloxone can save someone

    Naloxone only works if you have opioids in your system, such as:

    • fentanyl;
    • heroin;
    • morphine; and
    • codeine.

    Temporary reversal of an opioid overdose

    Naloxone is a safe drug that:

    • is used to temporarily reverse overdoses caused by opioid drugs;
    • can buy time and save a person's life before the paramedics arrive;
    • acts fast ‒ usually within 3 to 5 minutes ‒ the protective effect lasts for 20 to 90 minutes.

    After you use naloxone

    • Naloxone is a temporary treatment that quickly wears off.
    • Phone 911 if you used a naloxone kit.

    You may have to use naloxone a 2nd time. This depends on:

    • the amount or type of opioid taken; or
    • how the opioids were taken (for example oral, injection).

Contact 

If you have questions, phone 867-332-0722.