Overdose Prevention

911 Naloxone (4 minutes, Canada, 2013)


Canada and the USA are the biggest consumers of opioids in the world. In Ontario alone, more than 50,000 citizens are dependent on opioids.


"It could be anybody's mother or father, anybody's brother or sister - we have to respond appropriately".

– Chief Murray Rodd, Peterborough Lakefield Community Police


The short film 911 Naloxone brings a police chief, a paramedic and a physician together to discuss two initiatives intended to save lives, reduce injuries and ease the financial burden on the health care system: 

- Overdose prevention, including naloxone

- Improving 911 call rates during overdose emergencies, including Good Samaritan Overdose Legislation


911 Naloxone highlights the priorities of all first responders during an overdose emergency: saving lives. The film also highlights the role for first responders, community, government, service providers and others to reduce opioid overdose, a leading cause of accidental death.






Overdose Prevention in Peterborough


There is an average of 17 overdose deaths each year in Peterborough (Coroner Office data 2005-2010) – a figure comparable to traffic deaths.47% of overdoses involve alcohol and 40% involve opioids (Oxycodone, heroin, morphine, fentanyl, methadone, etc.)

Download the summary here

Recent changes in the availability of OxyContin are expected to lead to an increase in overdose deaths as people switch to other opioids. We are already seeing an increase in heroin availability and use of fentanyl in our community. 

Overdose prevention programs are now even more critically important to reduce injury and deaths in our community. Partners in the Peterborough Drug Strategy will start providing overdose training in the fall of 2012.


  • In Ontario, over 300 people die each year as a result of taking prescription painkillers – a five-fold increase between 1994 and 2004.  On average, patients had seen their doctor 15 times in the previous year. (Canadian Medical Association Journal 2009;181[12]: 891-896). 
  • Peterborough ranks 7th highest in the province for opioid related deaths. (Gomes, Tara, personal communication.)  






What is an Overdose?


An overdose occurs when a person uses more of a drug, or combination of drugs, than the body can handle. As a result, the brain is not able to control basic life functions. The person may pass out, stop breathing, have heart failure, or experience seizures. 


  • Anyone can overdose: first time users, long-time users, old people, young people, people being released from jail or treatment, etc… 
  • There is no exact formula for determining how much of a certain drug or combination of drugs, will lead to an overdose. 
  • An individual's physical characteristics play a role: weight, health, tolerance for a drug at that particular time, drug potency, route of administration, or frequency/amount of use. 


Preventing an Overdose




Responding to an Overdose


Call 911 – Peterborough and Lakefield Police have stated that during an overdose emergency, they will focus on saving a life  - not laying drugs charges.


Overdose Prevention Training


Contact PARN at 705-749-9110  or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it to sign up for– happening in fall 2012.


Overdose Response Myths





Overdose Prevention Programs in Canada and Abroad 


There are just four overdose prevention programs in Canada: Edmonton (2005); Waterloo Region (2009), Toronto (2011) and Ottawa (2012). 


Many programs provide Naloxone – an antidote drug that temporarily reverses the effects of opioids. When given properly, Naloxone will quickly reverse the overdose effects and the person will start breathing and regain consciousness. Since Naloxone’s effects are temporary – it is very likely the person will stop breathing again so 911 must still be called so emergency personnel can care for the person. 


Follow these links to learn about overdose prevention programs: 


Ontario Harm Reduction Distribution Network - training resources


Waterloo Region Crime Prevention Council

Prevention Overdose Waterloo Wellington (POWW)

Overdose Prevention Alliance - USA

Brockton Mayor's Opioid Overdose Prevention Coalition - Massachusetts, USA

Project Lazarus - North Carolina, USA

Take-Home Naloxone - United Kingdom