Preventing Opioid-Related Overdoses

Naloxone reverses the effects of opioids from an overdose.

Opioids are drugs that include prescribed pain relievers, like codeine or morphine, as well as illegal drugs, like heroin. Patients can benefit from opioids that are prescribed and used properly. When opioids are misused, they can be deadly.

Unknowingly, potent opioids like fentanyl may be put in illegally produced pills that look like prescription medications, including Percocet, Oxycontin and Xanax. None of these commercially produced formulations contain fentanyl.

In Canada, opioid use and overdose deaths are on the rise.

Call 911 right away, if you think someone is overdosing.  An overdose on opioids can quickly lead to death.

Signs on an Opioid Overdose: blue lips or nails; dizziness and confusion; can't be woken up; choking, gurgling or snoring sounds; slow, weak or no breathing and/or drowsiness or difficulty staying awake

Taking action

Drug overdose deaths are preventable.

The provincial government has developed an action plan to prevent and mitigate unintentional opioid overdoses and deaths among youth and adults in Prince Edward Island.

Reduce your riskAn infographic that illustrates the PEI Action Plan to prevent and mitigate opioid-related overdoses and deaths

What are situations that can put me at risk of an opioid-related overdose?

  • mixing substances including alcohol and prescription drugs
  • recreational or one time use
  • changes in prescription
  • using after period of reduced or no drug use

How can I reduce my risk of overdose?

  • Don't use alone
  • know your tolerance (that is, how much you can take)
  • have a Naloxone kit with you, and know how to use it
  • start with a small amount to check the strength
  • do not take opioids with alcohol or other drugs (unless prescribed by your doctor)

Where is Naloxone available?Image of PEI map that shows locations of Provincial Needle Exchange Program as being: Tignish, Alberton, O'Leary, Summerside, Charlottetown, Montague and Souris

Naloxone kits are available for free to people who are at high risk of opioid-related overdoses.

  • Needle Exchange Program – free kits for clients
  • Provincial Addictions Treatment Facility – free kits for clients

Hospitals, emergency departments, provincial correctional facilities, opioid replacement clinics, EMS and police are all equipped with Naloxone.

Anyone can purchase a naloxone kit without a prescription (cost is approximately $50) at most PEI pharmacies.

Treatment for Opioid Addiction and Misuse

Where can I get treatment?

If you are addicted to opioid drugs, treatment and supports are available to help you recover. To learn more, visit Opioid Replacement Therapy Program.

What other services are available to people who use drugs?

The Needle Exchange Program provides confidential services including clean needles and other supplies, immunization, testing, wound care, education, and referrals. 

Opioid-Related Overdoses and Deaths in PEI

Opioid-related overdose and death surveillance reports are posted here on a quarterly schedule. This information helps to inform program planning and to identify sudden increases in overdoses or deaths.

  • All overdose cases reported below involved mixed toxicology (i.e. one or more opioids combined with one or more non-opioid substances, such as alcohol).

  • All deaths reported below involved mixed toxicology (i.e. one or more opioids, plus one or more non-opioid substances).

Time period
Number of accidental opioid-related overdoses in PEI1
Number of accidental apparent opioid-related deaths in PEI2
October to December, 2017 <55 not yet available4
July to September, 2017 <55  not yet available4
April to June, 2017
January to March, 2017 not available <55
not available

1 Accidental/unintentional overdoses involving opioids does not include overdoses that occurred as a result of intentional self-inflicted harm.

2 Accidental/unintentional deaths involving opioids does not include deaths that occurred as a result of intentional self-inflicted harm; only closed (certified) cases are reported.

3 Surveillance by the Chief Public Health Office of toxicological cases presenting to PEI’s emergency departments began in May 2017. 

4 Due to the length of time required for death investigations, accidental apparent opioid-related deaths are reported with a minimum 3-month lag.

5 To protect the privacy of individuals, case counts of less than 5 are suppressed.


Published date: 
January 22, 2018
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General Inquiries

Department of Health and Wellness
4th Floor North, Shaw Building
105 Rochford Street
Charlottetown, PE   C1A 7N8

Phone: (902) 368-6414
Fax: (902) 368-4121