Seven recent deaths in Kelowna linked to overdose

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KELOWNA – Several overdoses in the Okanagan have prompted health officials to warn the public to be careful what drugs they take.

Interior Health issued a media release today, Aug. 30, saying there were seven suspected overdose deaths in the Kelowna area between Aug. 17 and Aug. 26.

Although the exact causes of death have yet to be established, Interior Health believes overdose the likely cause.

“The suspected overdose deaths appear to be associated with the use of illegal drugs,” health officials say. “Therefore, all people who use illegal drugs are being advised to take precautions to prevent overdose. Not using drugs at all is the best way to avoid overdose and other health impacts. However, health-care providers recognize some people will continue to use drugs.”

Anyone using illegal drugs should avoid mixing with other drugs, including prescriptions and alcohol, not take drugs while alone and use less until the strength is known.

The release also recommends you keep an eye on friends, learn to recognize the signs of an overdose and carry a Naloxone kit that you know how to use.

Symptoms of overdose include slow or no breathing, gurgling or gasping, lips or fingertips turning blue, difficulty waking and general non-responsiveness.

If you suspect someone may be having an overdose call 9-1-1 immediately.

Interior Health’s overdose response strategy includes enhanced fatal and non-fatal overdose surveillance, increasing accessibility to harm reduction tools including Take Home Naloxone (THN) kits, establishing supervised consumption services, scaling-up substance use treatment services for people who use drugs, and providing population based education and prevention.

For more stories about the overdose crisis go here.

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