Make a Plan for Safer Drug Use
There is always a risk when you use drugs, but there are steps you can take to be safer.
1. Don't Use Alone
It's safer when someone is there to administer naloxone and/or call for help.
1. Access a supervised consumption service when using your drugs.
- There is a supervised consumption site in Saskatoon at Prairie Harm Reduction.
- There is an overdose prevention site in Regina at the Nēwo Yōtina Friendship Centre.
2. Use the buddy system
- Buddy up when you are using drugs – in person, by texting, by telephone or chatting online. It's safer when someone is there to administer naloxone and/or call for help.
- If you are both using drugs, stagger your use so that one of you is always able to help the other.
- Tell your buddy what drug(s) you are using so they can relay that information to paramedics if you overdose.
On the phone or online
- If you stop replying on the phone or through messaging, your buddy can call 911 and give them the information they need to help you.
- Make a plan: talk about how long your buddy should wait before they call 911, tell your buddy where you are located and how paramedics can get to you (e.g. your address, "last door on the right," "the key is under the doormat"), and other information they might need to help you.
3. Call the National Overdose Response Service – 1-888-688-NORS (6677)
- This toll-free, 24-hour hotline aims to prevent deadly overdoses by connecting people who are alone and using drugs with peer volunteers who can call for help if it's needed.
2. Get a Take Home Naloxone Kit
Naloxone reverses the effects of an opioid overdose temporarily, restoring breathing in a few minutes and buying time for EMS to arrive. 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.
3. Check Your Drugs
Drugs are checked using fentanyl and/or benzodiazepine test strips. To perform a test, the drug checker will take a tiny sample of the street drug being tested and dissolve it in water. The test strip is then dipped into the water and within a few minutes it will give the result. Coloured lines will appear on the strip indicating a positive result (one line) or negative result (two lines).
The test has some important limitations:
- Fentanyl strips only test for fentanyl, and benzodiazepine strips only test for benzodiazepines within the sample provided.
- Although the sample may be negative, the tested drug may still be present in the remainder of the drug batch.
- Strips may occasionally report a negative result when the drug tested for, or an analogue, is present.
It is important that other precautions are taken, even if your drug checking result is negative.
Drug checking strips are now available for pick-up at locations provincewide:
*Please call first to find out hours of availability*
|Beauval Health Centre||Lavoie St.||306-288-4800|
|Buffalo Narrows Health Centre||310 Davey St.||306-235-5800|
|Cumberland House||2nd Ave. PO Box 8||306-888-2244|
|Green Lake Health Centre||Box 29 Green Lake||306-832-6257|
|Ile a la Crosse|
|Ile a la Crosse Public Health||La Jeunesse Ave.||306-833-2016|
|Kamsack Hospital||341 Stewart St.||306-542-2635|
|La Loche Health Centre||Dene Rd.||306-822-8800|
|La Ronge Health Centre||227 Backlund St.||306-425-2422|
|Scattered Site Outreach, La Ronge||719B La Ronge Ave.||306-425-4990|
|Lloydminster Native Friendship Centre (once per week)||4602 49th Ave.||306-825-6558|
|Lloydminster Public Health||4910 50th St. #115||306-820-5997|
|Maidstone Health Complex||214 5th Ave.||306-893-2622|
|Meadow Lake Hospital ER||711 Centre St.||306-236-1500|
|Meadow Lake Primary Health Care Centre (once per week)||218 Centre St.||306-236-5661|
|Meadow Lake Public Health (2)||711 Centre St.||306-236-1570|
|Crescent View Clinic, Moose Jaw||131 1st Ave. NE.||306-691-2040|
|Nipawin Hospital||800 6th St. E.||306-862-6100|
|Battlefords Sexual Health Clinic||1192 101st St.||306-937-6846|
|North Battleford Public Health||11427 Railway Ave.||306-446-6400|
|Access Place - Sexual Health Clinic, Prince Albert||101 15th St. E.||306-765-6540|
|AIDS Programs South Sask., Regina||1325 Albert St.||306-924-8420|
|Nēwo Yōtina Friendship Center Regina||1635 11th Ave.||306-525-5042|
|Regina Sexual Health Clinic/Public Health (downtown)||2110 Hamilton St.||306-766-7788|
|Prairie Harm Reduction, Saskatoon||1516 20th St. W.||306-242-5005|
|Saskatoon Public Health – Idylwyld Centre||310 Idylwyld Dr. N #101||306-665-4620|
|Saskatoon Tribal Council (STC) Health Center||1514 20th St. W.||306-956-0345|
|Swift Current Community Health (EI Wood building)||350 Cheadle St. W.||306-778-5280|
|Turning Point||345 Broadway St. W.||306-786-0637|
Other printable resources:
4. Mixing Drugs Increases the Risks
Avoid mixing drugs or be cautious if you do mix drugs.
Mixing drugs with other drugs or with alcohol can increase the likelihood of an accidental overdose. Some drug combinations are more deadly than others.
5. Start Low and Go Slow
The street drug supply is becoming more and more toxic. Treat each dose of drugs like there may be something unexpected in it, even if you have received negative drug checking results. Street drugs, even those packaged like prescription drugs, can be contaminated with other substances.
Start with a small amount and go slowly.
If you have not used drugs for a while or you are feeling unwell, use a smaller amount than usual because your body may have lower tolerance than you think.
6. Learn about the Good Samaritan Act
If you think someone is overdosing, call 911. Naloxone is only a temporary solution and will not work on all overdoses. The person overdosing will need medical attention and every minute counts.
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.
7. Use New Harm Reduction Supplies Every Time
Protect yourself from HIV, Hepatitis C and other infectious diseases: use new, clean supplies each time you use drugs, and do not share supplies with other people. Get more information on Harm Reduction Programs and services in your area.
8. Where to Get Help
- HealthLine 811 – Mental health and addictions service continues to be available, providing 24/7 crisis support, advice to help manage a caller's situation, information and connection to community resources.
- Wellness Together Canada – Connects people to peer support workers, social workers, psychologists and other professionals for confidential chat sessions or phone calls, and also offers credible information and help to address mental health and substance use issues.
- Mental Health resources – A wide range of services, supports, and education materials are available to assist people who are struggling with mental health and addiction issues in Saskatchewan.
- Addictions resources – Get information and services available in Saskatchewan to help you deal with alcohol and drug issues.
- Harm Reduction resources – Harm Reduction Programs are part of a comprehensive public health disease prevention strategy to reduce the spread of HIV, Hepatitis C, and other sexually transmitted and blood-borne infections.