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13 deaths across Waterloo Region in 2018 because of drug overdoses

FILE - This Aug. 15, 2017, file photo shows an arrangement of pills of the opioid oxycodone-acetaminophen in New York. Fatal drug overdoses are increasing organ donations, and researchers reported Monday, April 16, 2018, that people who receive those transplants generally fare as well as patients given organs from more traditional donors. (AP Photo/Patrick Sison, File)

Opioids are a growing concern not only in Waterloo Region, but across North America.

Waterloo Regional Police Services confirm there have been 13 deaths in 2018 due to drug overdoses.

Chief of Police for WRPS Bryan Larkin says most occurrences are confined to somewhere we can all relate to.

” They’re occurring in residential neighborhoods. We likely believe that’s related to individuals who are using alone. Our message of safety is if you are using an opioid, you should always use with someone else, you should have a support mechanism.”

The Chief says generally non-fatal overdoses are happening in the core areas because access to naloxone and other life-saving measures may be available.

Larkin also says they’ve received 156 calls about drug overdoses this year.

He went on to say naloxone kits have been administered 11 times, and each time, they’ve been successful.

Larkin says his organization is committed to lowering the number of fatalities.

” Supervised injection sites are one tool in the harm-reduction tool and we’re supportive of the approach.”

Despite more devastating drugs coming into the region, Larkin says they have to provide more services rather than ramp up patrol.

” We’re not going to enforce or arrest our way out of the opioid crisis. The way to get out of it is a collaborative, community based approached to ensure we get people the support and necessary health care they require.”

Chief Larkin also addressed the epidemic of Carfentanil in Waterloo Region.

He said it has been found in seizures made at different points over the last year and they’re concerned about its prevalence across the province. He also notes police must adapt to the speed and adaptability of the drug culture.

Carfentanil is 100 times stronger fentanyl and is used as a animal tranquilizer.