A spike in drug poisonings has police, public health officials, and Kingston residents on high alert.
Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington (KFL&A) Public Health unit issued an alert on June 30 cautioning residents from using unregulated substances, citing a spike in drug poisonings in the area.
“The unregulated [drug] supply is unpredictable. It’s hard to know what you’re taking when you’re taking it,” said Anoushka Moucessian, public health promoter at KFL&A Public Health, in an interview with The Journal.
The alert issued by KFL&A warned residents of overdoses linked to a sedative mixture containing both benzodiazepine and xylazine.
Kington Police, KFL&A Public Health, and the Consumption Treatment Center in Kingston collaborate on informing the public on issues related to Kingston’s unregulated drug supply.
A week after the most recent alert, Kingston Police arrested three individuals in possession of 298 grams of fentanyl they suspect were related to recent overdoses. Police believe the seized drugs are laced with xylazine and have sent samples to Health Canada for testing, according to a Kingston Police press release.
Xylazine is commonly referred to as “tranq” or the “zombie drug” on the street.
“That mixture, because they’re both (benzodiazepines and xylazine) [are] really potent sedatives, makes it harder and harder to revive folks who find themselves in an overdosed state,” Moucessian said.
Fentanyl mixed with sedatives is a particularly worrisome combination, Moucessian explained. The effects of xylazine cannot be reversed with Naloxone, an antidote commonly used to reverse fentanyl induced overdoses.
“The supply goes beyond borders. Substances are trafficked in various ways and you’ll see trends in different communities, and then it will arrive here [in Kingston],” Moucessian added.
To support students, Queen’s Student Wellness Services (SWS) takes a harm reduction approach to substance use, according to a statement sent to The Journal by SWS Project Specialist Erin Burns. SWS partnered with DrugSmart to distribute Naloxone kits and recommends students only purchase drugs from government-regulated sources.
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