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Overdose Prevention


1. 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.

Naloxone does not reverse the effects of non-opioids, such as stimulants (e.g. crystal methamphetamine or cocaine), benzodiazepines and benzodiazepine analogues (either medical or non-medical), or sedatives (e.g. gabapentin or xylazine). Naloxone will still reverse the effects of the opioid, so it is recommended to administer Naloxone in the event of an overdose.

Learn more about the Take Home Naloxone program and where to get a kit and training


2. Check Your Drugs

Drug checking is a community-based service aimed at identifying the contents of drugs from the unregulated market. It can help people who use drugs make informed decisions regarding their use.

Staff assisted drug checking is done using:

  • Fentanyl and benzodiazepine test strips. To perform a test, a tiny sample of the street drug being tested will be taken and dissolved 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).
  • Fourier-transform infrared (FTIR) spectrometers (drug checking devices). FTIRs identify what is in a drug and can alert people who use drugs if there are other contaminants, such as xylazine, and, if so, how much it contains. This allows for people to take action to reduce the risk of overdose.

The test strips have 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.

Find take home drug checking strips, or drug/substance checking services.

Other printable resources:


3. 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.


4. Sign Up For Drug Alerts

Drug alerts warn community members and front-line service providers when there is an elevated risk of overdose in their community. Alerts are issued by the Ministry of Health.

Sign up information is available at Drug Alerts or text JOIN to 1-833-35-B-SAFE (352-7233).


5. Learn about the Good Samaritan Act

If you think someone is overdosing, call 911 immediately. 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  provides legal protections for individuals who seek emergency help during an overdose or who witness an overdose.


6. Practice Disease Prevention

Protect yourself from HIV, Hepatitis C and other infectious diseases: use new, clean needles each time you use drugs, and do not share supplies with other people. Get tested – Testing is 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.


7. Call the National Overdose Response Service – 1-888-688-NORS (6677)

Keeping people connected with others reduces their risk of death.

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.

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