Learning More About the Opioid Crisis

This week, we wanted to take some space to discuss the Opioid Crisis in Canada and more specifically, how it has affected Hamilton, ON.

Last week, Public Health released the following statement:
February 1, 2019: Purple Heroin Alert – Public Health Services has received reports of overdoses due to Purple Heroin, a highly toxic synthetic laced heroin, circulating the community. People say it can cause confusion, and speech problems. People also say it can cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea for several days after. This serves as an important reminder to the community that street drugs continue to be cut (mixed) with toxic substances.

There is no easy way to know what is in your drugs. You can’t see it, smell it or taste it. Substances such as fentanyl and carfentanil can be cut (mixed) with other drugs. Even a very small amount can cause an overdose.

As of February 3, Hamilton Paramedic Services have responded to 65 incidents related to opioid overdoses this year. This number is evidence that this is a very real problem in our community.

Public Health recommends the following steps to stay safe:

  • Careful Use – Don’t use alone, go slow by testing the effect with small amounts first.
  • Carry naloxone – Get a FREE naloxone kit, and training at the following locations:
    City of Hamilton Public Health Services Harm Reduction program: 905-546-4276.
    Participating local pharmacies by calling the Drug and Alcohol Helpline: 1-800-565-8603.
  • Call 9-1-1 for every overdose. You, your friend or family member needs hospital care to survive.
  • CPR. Push Hard, Push Fast.

If you wish to learn more information about the Opioid Crisis in Hamilton, click here.


Jennifer Heipel has approximately 12 years of experience working as a hepatology nurse/clinical research coordinator for several gastroenterologists, hepatologists, infectious diseases and addiction specialists. She is trained in the treatment of Hepatitis B and C therapies as well as general hepatology and pre/post liver transplant follow up. Jennifer serves as Charlton Health’s full time Hepatology Nurse and manages the Hepatology Program. She has worked and continues to work with Dr. Puglia at McMaster University and other area Gastroenterologists to develop a comprehensive, in-house Hepatology program and Hepatitis C program here at Charlton Health.

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