REGINA -- Between Friday and Monday morning, the Regina Police Service (RPS) responded to five fatal overdoses.

This comes after RPS sent out a warning about four fatal overdoses since Tuesday.

“In Regina, in 2020 so far, our police service is aware of 85 apparent overdose deaths,” said RPS spokesperson Elizabeth Popowich. “To put that into perspective, last year, we had identified probably about a quarter of that.”

Popowich said police know of 953 overdose events so far in 2020. Police attended to 361 of those events, and administered Narcan in 60 of those cases.

According to the Saskatchewan Coroners Service, between Jan. 1 and Oct. 26, 2020, there have 296 confirmed and suspected drug toxicity deaths in the province, significantly higher than any of the previous ten years.

Overdose survivor Alison Phillips said she understands why the numbers are so high.

“Since Covid started, (people aren’t) able to get into detox centres, because they are only at half capacity, the same with treatment centres. And the drugs are just so dangerous,” Phillips said.

Phillips used prescription drugs for about 20 years, and said she overdosed about six times.  

She went into recovery about three years ago and was clean for about nine months, before she overdosed again at a recovery centre.

“They called EMS and they came, and they gave me Narcan I think five times,” she said.

She has been sober ever since then.

“I’m one of the lucky ones that made it through that,” she said.

Margaret Kisikaw Piyesis with All Nations Hope Network said she isn’t shocked to see the recent high numbers, because she has worked with many of those struggling with addictions in the community.

“There’s so many overdoses because people aren’t accessing help. They aren’t going to the doors of the places of where they should be accessing health care, treatment and support,” Kisikaw Piyesis said.

Because of the pandemic, she said, some opioids are harder to come by, causing users to turn to riskier drugs and consumption methods.

Kisikaw Piyesis said the Place of Hope hands out Naloxone kits and training for those who want to know how to use the kits.

However, she said more supports need to be put in place, including a safe consumption site in Regina.

“In the best world, we would have services and programs that are 24/7 here in the city of Regina, for people who are actively using,” Kisikaw Piyesis said.

In the meantime, Phillips said she wants anyone who is struggling to know they can reach out for support.

“A doctor, a friend, anybody at all,” she said. “Just so you don’t have to pick up again. Because it’s way too dangerous.”