Suspected overdose deaths prompt community drug alert for Waterloo Region

A community drug alert has been issued for Waterloo Region after multiple deaths in the span of a week.

The alert from the Waterloo Region Integrated Drugs Strategy said three people died from suspected drug overdoses or poisonings between March 19 and March 26.

The alert said the Kitchener CTS Drug Checking Program recently detected samples of fentanyl combined with other drugs, and various new fentanyl analogues.

A fentanly analogue is described as “new high-potency opioids that increases the risk of an overdose/drug poisoning and may require more naloxone than expected to rouse individuals.”

The other drugs detected are two types of animal tranquilizer: Medetomidine/dexmedetomidine; and Xylazine.

They also found Bromazolam, described as “a highly potent, benzodiazepine-related drug…naloxone cannot reverse the effects of benzodiazepines.”

A direct connection between these drugs and the three recent deaths is not known, but WRIDS wants the public to be aware.

This is the first community drug alert since late-January.

The WRIDS says if someone overdoses:

  1. Call 911.
  2. Administer naloxone if an opioid overdose/drug poisoning is suspected.
  3. Perform rescue breathing and/or chest compressions.
  4. Do not give any other substance(s) because this can make the overdose/drug poisoning worse.
  5. If no improvements, continue to give naloxone 2-3 minutes apart until paramedics arrive.
  6. If you have to leave the person unattended, put them in the recovery position.

And for anyone using drugs:

  1. Never use substances alone. If using with a friend, do not use at the exact same time or use the National Overdose Response Service (NORS) at 1-888-688-6677.
  2. Try a small amount first and use less drugs when your tolerance may be lower.
  3. Avoid mixing substances – do not use other downers (e.g. benzos, alcohol, and other opioids).
  4. Have naloxone ready and know how to use it.
  5. Use at the Consumption & Treatment Services (CTS) site at 150 Duke Street West (Open 7 days a week, 9am-9pm, 8:30pm last call). Drug checking services are also available at the CTS site. Visit
  6. Anyone who is involved in a overdose/drug poisoning including the person needing help and anyone at the scene is protected from simple possession charges if you call 911 by the Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act.

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