In July, the health unit reported six suspected drug-related deaths in the County of Haliburton, City of Kawartha Lakes and Northumberland County.

In addition, in the second week of August, on the border of Haliburton County, the HKPR health unit also issued a media release in response to increased drug poisoning activity in the City of the Kawartha Lakes.

Katlin Archibald was in Head Lake Park Aug. 31 as part of international overdose awareness day.

While she could not provide statistics related to Haliburton County directly, she said the Highlands, CKL and Northumberland are part of a trend of skyrocketing global overdose rates in the last 25 years.

In 2020, an estimated 184 million people worldwide had used a drug in the past 12 months, a 26 per cent increase from 2010.

Archibald said the intent of the now annual day is to remember those who have died or suffered due to drug poisonings and overdose.

She added it, “seeks to create a better understanding of overdose, reduce the stigma of drug-related deaths, and create change that reduces the harms associated with drug use.”

Community members were invited to pay their respects and commemorate those lost to drug poisonings.

“By holding an event this year, the people of Haliburton County have joined themselves to a global movement for understanding, compassion and change,” Archibald said.

She added, “we stand together to say that more needs to be done to end drug poisonings in the community. We encourage members of the community to speak up and to stand in solidarity with anyone who has been personally affected by overdose.”

The day came about thanks to Penington Institute, an Australian not-for-profit. This year, for the first time, they announced a campaign theme; recognizing those who go unseen.

The institute said, “we honour the people whose lives have been altered by drug poisonings and overdose. They are the family and friends grieving the loss of a loved one; workers in healthcare, first responders and support services extending strength and compassion; and all the true folks out living on the front line.”