News Opioid deaths don’t go away during pandemic, alarming front line workers SHARE ON: Bob McIntyre, staff Monday, Feb. 1st, 2021 (pixabay.com) As one pandemic gains all the attention, health care workers continue battling another epidemic: death by opioid. The number of confirmed and suspected opioid overdoses and deaths in our area continues to alarm front line people fighting the situation. Porcupine Health Unit harm reduction coordinator Patrick Nowak says that as of last Wednesday, there had been four deaths in four weeks. Figures show that between January and September last year, there were 24 deaths. For all of 2019, there were 22. “While discussing numbers does tend to create a forceful picture of the severity of the crisis,” Nowak remarks, “I’ve got to really stress that these people were family members, friends and loved ones and this is a big issue in our area.” Nowak repeats the advice to never use opioids alone and always carry naloxone. “We’ve got to say that everyone’s at risk, no matter what substance is being used. So everyone needs to be careful and people really need to expand the conversation of substance abuse and what it means in our area.” Nowak adds that it’s a complicated situation that requires prevention, treatment, harm reduction and even enforcement.