Niagara marks International Overdose Awareness Day

CKTB - NEWS - Overdose Prevention

Hundreds of purple ribbons have been set up in front of St. Catharines City Hall to remember lives lost to overdoses and to call for change on International Overdose Awareness Day.

Pictures accompany some of the ribbons as families share their stories of loss to addiction as they try to help destroy the stigma surrounding the complex issue.

Flags in St. Catharines will be lowered in recognition of the day.

Deputy Mayor Mat Siscoe says there were 150 confirmed opioid related deaths in 2020.

In Niagara alone, EMS responded to 105 suspected opioid overdoses cases in July of this year - a record since Niagara EMS started collecting data back in 2018.

The Overdose Prevention and Education Network of Niagara has issued an adverse advisory alert for the region as some of the drugs sold on the streets are being mixed with other, unknown substances that can cause an overdose.

Positive Living Niagara's Director of Streetworks Services Talia Storm says they are seeing a rise in deaths over the last number of weeks.

Experts have worried the pandemic has exacerbated addiction and overdose issues as some people are using alone more frequently and have no one to call for help if they do experience an overdose.