Opioids: Information On Misuse And Overdose

Health Canada has declared the use of opioids a national public health crisis, with 2458 opioid-related deaths in Canada in 2016. In 2017, there were 24 confirmed and 5 probable opioid-related deaths in Nova Scotia. In July 2017, the Government of Nova Scotia released their Opioid Use & Overdose Framework to help tackle the immediate impacts and long term effects of opioid use and overdose in Nova Scotia.

Our Objectives

  • To raise awareness about opioid use, a national public health crisis in Canada.
  • To educate students, faculty, staff and visitors about how to react in the event of a suspected opioid-related overdose.
  • To inform the campus community of support services available on and off campus.

Awareness & Education

Overdose Signs and Symptoms:

Signs and symptoms of a possible opioid overdose are:

  • breathing is slow or not breathing at all
  • nails and/or lips are blue
  • choking or throwing up
  • making gurgling sounds
  • skin is cold and clammy
  • cannot be woken up

If you encounter someone with any of these signs or symptoms:

  • CALL 911 and follow the directions of the dispatcher (place your phone down and put your phone on speaker)
  • Do not hang up on the 911 dispatcher
  • Do not leave the person unattended. Stay with them until Emergency Health Services arrive and take over.
  • If possible, instruct another person to contact Campus Security at (902) 578-2316. Campus Security Officers are equipped with NARCAN (Naloxone) nasal spray and will administer it if/when directed to by the 911 dispatcher.


There are supports services available if you or someone you know is battling drug addiction, needs someone to talk to or is unsure of where to get help. Please refer to the following links for more information:

Nancy Dingwall Health and Counselling Centre: CBU’s Personal Counsellors are Clinical Social Workers who work with students to deal with a variety of issues including depression and anxiety, grief, parenting, anger, relationship issues, family conflict, time management, stress, financial concerns, and more. To make an appointment or inquiry, call 902-563-1359 or email healthservices@cbu.ca.

Nova Scotia Health – Addiction Services: Mental Health and Addictions (MHA) gives care and support to people with mental health disorders and substance/gambling addictions. This includes health promotion and prevention, as well as general and specialized treatment programs. These programs include outpatient and community-based programs, home and school-based interventions and inpatient services.

Mental health and addiction crisis line 1-888-429-8167 available 24/7

For help finding local resources or to talk with a counselor call 211 available 24/7

To speak with a registered nurse call 811 available 24/7

Sharp Advise Needle Exchange Outreach Services: Located at 150 Bentinck Street in Sydney (use back door), the Sharp Advice Needle Exchange is a non-profit, community based organization sponsored by The Ally Centre of Cape Breton and funded through the Nova Scotia Department of Health. The goal is to reduce the spread of HIV, Hepatitis C and B, and other harms related to injection drug use within the community. This is done by providing clean injection equipment, education, referrals and support to those who are using injection drugs. For more information, please call 902-539-5556.

Narcotics Anonymous- A Resource in Your Community: Anyone with a desire to stop using drugs is welcome to become a member of Narcotics Anonymous. Membership is not limited to addicts using any particular drug. Those who feel they may have a problem with drugs, legal or illegal, including alcohol, are welcome in NA. Recovery in NA focuses on the problem of addiction, not on any particular drug.