Timmins opioid task force warns two recent deaths linked to powerful, unknown drug


The Opioid Emergency Response Task Force in Timmins is issuing an alert about a new, unknown drug linked to recent deaths.

"Through information received from emergency services, there have been two suspected opioid-related deaths across the Porcupine Health Unit area," the group said in a news release Tuesday. "These are suspected to be related to fentanyl and an unknown white powder likely containing powerful opioids."

The task force is reminding the public, people who use, and their friends and family that powerful opioids and other toxic substances continue to be circulating in the area, the release said.

“Recognizing an overdose and having naloxone at hand can save lives,” Dr. Lianne Catton, medical officer of health, said in the release.

“The ongoing trend of increasing tragic outcomes related to opioids have continued over the course of the pandemic across the province and especially in the north, and in the PHU region."

The task force said the alerts are aimed at raising awareness and increasing access to naloxone.

"Each loss is someone’s child, parent, partner, friend, family and the impact is tremendous," the release said. "There is ongoing work by many community partners to address this crisis. At the same time, increasing compassion and understanding is key. We urge family and friends of people who use drugs, and all parents, to increase the conversation around the risks of any drug use, especially opioids."

The Opioid Emergency Response Task Force is encouraging people who use substances to:

• Never use alone.

• If people are using together, ensure one person can respond if an opioid overdose happens.

• Connect with someone who can call for help if needed. People who use substances can also call into the Overdose Prevention Line 24/7 at 1-888-688-NORS (6677).

• Test a small amount first.

• Avoid mixing substances.

• Carry naloxone kits.

If you suspect an overdose, call 911 immediately, administer naloxone if available, and wait for help to arrive. The Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act provides protection from arrest and breaches for simple possession.

Free Naloxone kits are readily available throughout the area at Porcupine Health Unit offices and at many pharmacies. A list of sites is available here.