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article imageAccidental drug overdose forum in Toronto

By Tim Sandle     Jun 18, 2014 in Health
Toronto - A special forum is taking place in Toronto. Titled ‘Apathy and Overdose’, the meeting is taking place in Toronto on Wednesday June 18.
On June 18, patients, family members and harm reduction advocates will hold a public forum at College Street United Church in Toronto (College & Bathurst) at 7 p.m. to hear from experts on drug overdose prevention.
Drug overdose is a serious issue in Toronto. It has been estimated that over 200 people died of accidental drug overdose in Toronto during 2012, according to the coroner's preliminary data. Discussing the importance of raising awareness, Walter Cavalieri, Director of the Canadian Harm Reduction Network said: “Unless it's a celebrity death, overdose gets little notice, but it affects us all; we need to acknowledge this epidemic, and take steps to prevent these unnecessary losses.”
At the "Apathy and Overdose" meeting, a range of speakers have been lined up to help educate and inform. Speakers include Donald MacPherson, executive director of the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition who will release a new report, Opiate Overdose, Prevention and Response in Canada, and Dan Bigg, co-founder and Director of the Chicago Recovery Alliance, which developed and initiated North America's first overdose intervention program using Naloxone in 1996. Naloxone is a prescription medication that quickly reverses opioid overdose. The moderator for the event will be Dr. Philip Berger, Director of the Inner City Health Program at St. Michael's Hospital.
The event is co-organized by the Canadian Harm Reduction Network. The Network is sponsoring this forum in collaboration with the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition, Jac’s Voice, Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy, The Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, John Howard Society Toronto, and Patients Canada. The Canadian Harm Reduction Network has outlined a comprehensive approach to overdose prevention and response that includes five key components. These are:
1. Make the safe and effective medication to reverse opioid overdose (Naloxone) more readily available and cost effective by including it in provincial drug plans and making it available over-the-counter.
2. Scale up community-based and other overdose programs that include education and training on how to prevent and respond to overdose. Include peers, family, and first responders in these programs.
3. Reduce the barriers to calling 911 during a drug overdose event by implementing national 911 Good Samaritan legislation (i.e. legislation that would protect people from being arrested and charged with drug possession if they call for help during an emergency).
4. Implement appropriate guidelines for opioid prescription that do not limit access to needed pain medication or result in further discrimination against people who use drugs.
5. Increase the timely collection, analysis and dissemination of data on drug overdose events.
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