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Fentanyl overdose raises alarm in Pictou County

Two vials plus needle to administer Naloxone available at nearly all pharmacies in Pictou County.
Two vials plus needle to administer Naloxone available at nearly all pharmacies in Pictou County. - Brendan Ahern

An overdose in Pictou County has raised alarm bells over fentanyl in the region.

The warning came from the Northern Healthy Connections Society (NHCS). In a Facebook post on Oct. 3, the NHCS notified the community that a sample of powder cocaine was used in New Glasgow and had tested positive for fentanyl.

“The information was found out from one of our clients,” said NHCS spokesperson Alana Weatherbee. “They had been in hospital because they had overdosed and their toxicology report came back positive for fentanyl.”

The NHCS is a community-based organization which receives funding from the provincial government to assists people struggling with drug addiction in Colchester, Pictou and Cumberland counties, and East Hants.

The organization’s staff are trained to administer Naloxone, which is a drug that can temporarily stop the effects of opioid drugs like fentanyl, OxyContin or heroin, bring people out of an overdose and get them to hospital.

“It’s preventative. It can bring someone back, but they still need medical attention as well,” said Weatherbee.

For that reason, the NHCS also urges people to always use with someone who is capable of administering Naloxone in the event of an overdose.

“If they use alone and live alone and don’t have someone to reach out to, they may overdose. They could overdose and there’s no chance in having someone come over and administer Naloxone or call 911."

The NHCS, which is based in Truro, also travels to each of the communities it serves in order to meet with the people who rely on it.

“We meet people where they’re at,” said Weatherbee. “At their home, in a parking lot, wherever they’re comfortable meeting us.”

The NHCS van visits Pictou County once every two weeks.

They train clients on how to properly administer Naloxone and provide testing strips so that people can ensure that the drug they’re using doesn’t contain anything else.

“It’s almost similar to a pregnancy test, and it’ll come up on the strip,” said Weatherbee.

The results of the test will indicate either that the drug contains fentanyl, or is clear of it and to “use with caution.”

“It still is an illicit substance,” said Weatherbee. “So, keep a Naloxone kit and don’t use alone.”

Naloxone kits are carried in nearly all pharmacies in Pictou County.

According to Weatherbee, the need for the kits is high in the areas that NHCS serves.

“I think it’s very prominent here. It’s still quite hidden but it’s 100 per cent here,” she said.

To contact the NHCS, call 902-895-0931 or see their Facebook page.

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