Opioid overdose crisis in Canada could worsen by 2022

OTTAWA – The latest data from a federal special advisory committee on opioid overdoses shows that opioid-related deaths remain high and could even increase over the next six months.

In a statement released today, Co-Chairs Dr. Theresa Tam and Dr. Jennifer Russell that opioid-related deaths and hospital admissions remained high in the first half of 2021.

On average, 19 people died each day and 16 people were hospitalized for an opioid-related overdose.

They added that more than half of opioid-related deaths were also due to use of a stimulant like cocaine or methamphetamine, underscoring how the overdose crisis is related to simultaneous use of more than one drug.

The data suggests that the people hardest hit by the overdose crisis are men, people aged 20 to 49, and those who live in Western Canada and Ontario.

Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, and Russell, New Brunswick’s chief medical officer of Health, said current projections suggest that between 1,200 and 2,000 people could die each quarter through June 2022.

They said the modeling projections highlight the importance of working together to prevent substance use harm and help people who use drugs gain access to support.

Measures that can address this issue include improved access to naxolone, monitored consumption points, and safer delivery programs, said Tam and Russell.

“While harm reduction measures are essential, we must not lose sight of the importance of the general conditions that affect substance use,” they said.

They pointed to the broader context in which substance use occurs, saying that efforts such as ensuring affordable housing for all, fostering social connections within communities, and supporting positive development in children and adolescents can all contribute to substance-related efforts Prevent damage.

Tam and Russell called on the jurisdictions to work together to improve the sharing and comparison of data so that decision-makers have the evidence they need to inform policies and programs.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on December 15, 2021.

This story was produced with financial support from Facebook and the Canadian Press News Fellowship.


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