If you are conducting business with the Government of Saskatchewan by mail, please be advised that delivery may be delayed due to rotating postal strikes. Various measures are in place to ensure service to Saskatchewan residents and businesses during postal strike action.

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A number of pages on the Government of Saskatchewan`s web site have been professionally translated in French. These translations are identified by a yellow text box that resembles the link below and can be found in the right hand rail of the page. The home page for French-language content on this site can be found here:

Renseignements en Français

Where an official translation is not available, Google™ Translate can be used. Google™ Translate is a free online language translation service that can translate text and web pages into different languages. Translations are made available to increase access to Government of Saskatchewan content for populations whose first language is not English.

The results of software-based translation do not approach the fluency of a native speaker or possess the skill of a professional translator. The translation should not be considered exact, and may include incorrect or offensive language Government of Saskatchewan does not warrant the accuracy, reliability or timeliness of any information translated by this system. Some files or items cannot be translated, including graphs, photos, and other file formats such as portable document formats (PDFs).

Any person or entities that rely on information obtained from the system does so at his or her own risk. Government of Saskatchewan is not responsible for any damage or issues that may possibly result from using translated website content. If you have any questions about Google™ Translate, please visit: Google™ Translate FAQs.

Opioids

Opioids are medications that are prescribed primarily to relieve pain. When used properly, they can help. But misuse can cause dependence, overdose and death.

Opioids that are prescribed as medications include codeine, morphine, oxycodone, and hydromorphone.  If you have been prescribed an opioid medicine, it should:
  • Only be taken as prescribed;
  • Never be used by someone for whom it was not prescribed; and
  • Never be taken with alcohol or other medications (except as prescribed).

Keep your medication safe to help prevent problematic use by others by:

  • Never sharing your medication with anyone else. This is illegal and may also cause serious harm or death to the other person;
  • Keeping track of the amount of pills remaining in a package; and
  • Storing opioids in a safe and secure place, out of the reach of children and teenagers.

Unused portions of opioid medicine should always be:

  • Kept out of sight and reach of children and pets;
  • Stored in a safe place to prevent theft, misuse or accidental exposure. This prevents any possibility of illegal use and protects the environment from contamination; and
  • Returned to a pharmacy for safe disposal if it is no longer needed or is expired.
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1. Opioids in Saskatchewan

Data on the number of opioid-related deaths in Saskatchewan is available from the Office of the Chief Coroner.

National reports on opioid drug use and its impacts, which include data from Saskatchewan, are available from the Government of Canada.

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2. Fentanyl

Facts about street fentanyl

Fentanyl is an opioid that is 50-100 times more toxic than other opioids (such as heroin, oxycodone and morphine). Doctors may prescribe fentanyl for severe pain and for some medical procedures. Because of the strength of this drug, a health care provider must very carefully monitor the dose to make sure that the person does not overdose. 

Legal, prescribed fentanyl is dangerous when it is not used properly.

Illicit or street fentanyl is not received by prescription. It’s sometimes sold by dealers as another drug, or mixed into other substances like oxycodone or cocaine.  This is when using the drug becomes extremely dangerous; it can slow down a person’s breathing, lead to a coma and even death.

For more information:

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3. Services and Recovery

When someone has an opioid dependency, they feel that they need the drug and it can become very hard to quit.  When they stop using the drug, it can cause them to feel pain, anxiety or crave more opioids.  They might feel shaky, weak and nauseous; have fever, chills, muscle aches or bone pain; and experience changes to bowel function, sleeplessness, sweating, irritability and vomiting. 

There are a variety of treatment options for people with opioid dependence. Opioid Substitution Therapy (OST) provides treatment for individuals with opioid dependence.  The Opioid Substitution Therapy guidelines describe the role, services, and skills required of addiction counsellors in OST.

For more information, and to get help:

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4. Take Home Naloxone

Anyone who uses opioids, whether obtained by prescription or illegally, is at risk of an opioid overdose.  Opioids affect the part of the brain that controls breathing, so when too much of an opioid is taken, breathing slows or stops.  Naloxone reverses the effects of an opioid overdose temporarily, restoring breathing in a few minutes.  It is not a narcotic, is non-addictive, and has no effect if opioids are not present.  Naloxone is a safe medication, with few side effects.

Saskatchewan residents who are at risk of an opioid overdose and/or might witness an opioid overdose, such as friends and family of people who use opioids, are eligible for free training and a free Take Home Naloxone kit. The training covers overdose prevention, recognition, and response, including how to administer naloxone.

It’s important to note that Naloxone treatment itself does not replace the need to seek immediate medical attention. Call 911 immediately if you suspect an overdose.

To find a Take Home Naloxone Program near you, download the Take Home Naloxone Kit Community Listing poster or call HealthLine 811.

Naloxone is also available for purchase at pharmacies across Saskatchewan.  The Pharmacy Association of Saskatchewan has a list of pharmacies that carry naloxone.

Naloxone is available for free for First Nations and Inuit clients covered by the Non-Insured Health Benefits Program.

Take home naloxone kit
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5. Preventing Opioid Overdoses

In addition to having a naloxone kit readily available, there are other ways to prevent opioid overdose deaths.

If you have been prescribed an opioid medication, it should:

  • only be taken as prescribed; and
  • never be taken with alcohol or other medications (except as prescribed).

The best way to stay safe is to not use illegal drugs at all. People who do use illegal drugs should:

  • never use alone;
  • start with a small amount;
  • know that mixing drugs and/or alcohol could lead to an overdose; and
  • only use where you can get help right away.


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6. Good Samaritan Law

The federal Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act  (effective May 4, 2017) provides some legal protection for individuals who seek emergency help during an overdose, or who witness an overdose. It’s vital that even if naloxone is used, seek immediate medical attention by calling 911.


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