Toxicology test awaited in case of street drugs as public health warns against their use

Ottawa Police are still waiting for toxicology results after a young woman died and another was hospitalized after a severe reaction to street drugs last week.

The girls reportedly believed they were taking MDMA or Ecstasy and took the pills willingly. Police said they won't decide whether to launch a criminal investigation until they have the results in their hands.

In the wake of the tragedy Ottawa Public Health is warning people about street drug use, saying the best way to avoid the many risks associated with street drugs is to not take them and to find other ways of having fun.

But in reality health officials know that some people will choose to use illicit drugs and they work to reduce harm.

Ottawa Public Health's manager of health promotion and disease prevention, Sherry Nigro, said if you are choosing to use street drugs to do it safe.

"And one of the big challenges with street drugs, of course, is that you really don't know what you're getting. It's not regulated, nobody is doing quality control and there's other factors as well. Are you taking it with alcohol? Are you staying hydrated? Is it really hot? And who are you with?" she said.

Nigro said you should be with a safe group of friends who'll watch out for you and make sure you get home safely.

She also said it's essential not to mix drugs, which includes alcohol.

Nigro said parents can also play a major role in keeping their kids safe from street drugs, but it's not a conversation to be having when your kids are 16 and headed out the door.

"This is something that happens early. It happens by the way parents behave when they're having their own social functions, by having really frank conversations around being safe, what to do, what not to do, who to be with, how to get home and being a safety net," she said.

The bottom line is, though, these drugs are unsafe and unpredictable and the best way to avoid risk is to abstain from taking them.

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