Police seeing 'alarming' number of overdoses

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Ottawa police say they've seen an alarming number of overdoses in the nation's capital this year.  (CBC - image credit)
Ottawa police say they've seen an alarming number of overdoses in the nation's capital this year. (CBC - image credit)

Ottawa police say they're dealing with a distressing number of overdose calls this year, with 21 people already having died.

Officers have responded to 91 calls through the first two-plus months of 2021, compared to 542 calls — and 83 deaths — in 2020.

Those numbers are "alarming," the Ottawa Police Service (OPS) said in a press release.

"As a community, we need to stay focused on the crisis of overdoses we are seeing," wrote Insp. Carl Cartright in the release.

"Anything can be cut with fentanyl ... This means there is no way to be sure of what is exactly in drugs obtained from anywhere other than a pharmacy."

Don't mix drugs or use alone

Last year, officers deployed naloxone 115 times, saving 103 lives, police said.

So far this year, however, only eight people have been saved by the drug — which is highly effective at reversing opioid overdoses — including one man who was found unconscious last week in the ByWard Market.

Police said it's important not to mix drugs or use drugs alone, and that if someone decides to, they should consider visiting one of four supervised consumption and treatment services locations in Ottawa.

Those with loved ones using drugs should know the signs of an overdose, keep naloxone on hand and call 911, police said.

And if someone witnesses an overdose, they shouldn't hesitate to call the police.