MONTREAL -- There’s a new comprehensive resource available online to help those struggling with drug and alcohol addictions locate prevention and treatment centres and get counselling across Quebec.

The bilingual website, funded by Quebec’s health ministry, contains an interactive map so visitors can more easily locate resources in their area of the city.

“It varies from person to person but we have seen an increase in substance abuse, definitely,” said Maxime Miranda, development coordinator for the help group Drugs: Help and Referral, who attributes the higher numbers to the pandemic.

“Some of them had substance issues before and it’s been exacerbated, but some people developed behaviours form being lonely, from not having anything to do, from being stressed and using alcohol, let's say, to manage their anxiety,” Miranda explained.

Their loved ones are not left out of the equation. On the website’s homepage, one tidbit reads: “for each person with an addiction, an estimated 10 loved ones are affected.”

Family members are therefore encouraged to use the website as a support service for themselves.

The online tool also provides practical and potentially lifesaving information, like where to obtain naloxone kits.

Naloxone is a medication that can counteract the effects of opioids when administered quickly at the time of a suspected overdose.

The ‘Trouve Ton Centre’ website also points out that all kinds of drugs can be contaminated by fentanyl or even stronger street drugs, and that naloxone kits are available for free.

Public health officials reported on Nov. 7 that a new drug that is even more powerful than fentanyl is circulating on Montreal’s streets.

It’s called isotonitazene, and the chemically manufactured opioid has killed at least one person in Montreal.

That's why, amid a pandemic, when the flow of street drugs has not slowed and mental health resources in Quebec are overtaxed, a main advantage of the website, according to the Reference Centre of Greater Montreal, is that drug addiction workers will be accessible 24/7 by chat or by phone to answer any questions, or just to talk.

The website is also intended to be used by health and social services professionals because it links a large number of community groups, thereby creating a network for like-minded organizations.

The new platform was also created to help reduce the stigma faced by people seeking help for substance abuse.

“People are shy,” said Miranda, “and they wonder if they’re going to be judged - that could be sometimes a barrier to getting help.” They figured putting all the resources online would allow people to make discrete decisions about where to turn for help.