Preventing an opioid overdose

If you are going to use drugs:

Never use alone

  • When you’re using make sure there are people you know around who could assist in the event of an overdose.
  • Call the National Overdose Response Service: 1-888-688-NORS (6677) to have someone standing by to call for help if needed. A volunteer will check in periodically and call 911 if there’s no response. The caller can  provide contact information in advance for someone nearby with a naloxone kit - a helpful option to reverse an overdose in remote areas with long emergency response times.

  • Have an overdose response plan. Know what to do and how to call for help.

  • If you call 9-1-1 in response to an overdose you will not be charged for drug possession under the Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act.

Always carry naloxone

  • Naloxone is a medication that is used to reverse an opioid overdose temporarily.
  • Call 9-1-1 in the event of an overdose, even if you use naloxone. An overdose can return if the opioid is still in your body after the naloxone wears off.
  • Learn more about naloxone and where to find a kit.

Start low and go slow

  • If you are going to use, use a small amount first to test the strength of the drug.
  • There is no safe source due to the contamination of fentanyl. Even very small amounts can cause an overdose.

Know your tolerance 

  • Your body’s reaction to a drug decreases overtime as you continue to use the same amount.  
  • Use less when your tolerance is lower. Your chance of an overdose increases if you’re a new user or you haven’t used in 3+ days.
  • Your tolerance can also change depending on:
    • Your weight
    • Stress
    • Lack of sleep
    • Your health
    • Your ability to fight germs and sickness e.g. hepatitis
    • Other drugs and medications you are using

Don’t mix drugs

  • Don’t mix different types of drugs or use alcohol at the same time. Mixing these increases your chance of overdosing.
  • Be aware of the interactions between street drugs and drugs that have been prescribed by your healthcare provider.

Use new equipment

  • Use new drug equipment to avoid getting an infection (e.g. HIV and hepatitis C).
  • New needles, filters, sterile water, alcohol swabs, tourniquets, cookers, etc., can be accessed confidentially through Public Health, the Community Health Van, the Guelph Community Health Centre and other sites. More information can be found on our Needle Exchange page.
  • Dispose of used needles properly.