638 Ontarians died from opioid overdoes in the first half of 2018

Published On March 26, 2019 | By ketteliawright | News

The Canadian Institute for Health Information found that, on average, 17 Canadians were hospitalized every day due to opioid poisoning in 2017 — an increase from 16 per day in 2016. (REUTERS/George Frey)

Kettelia Wright

As overdose prevention sites await word on whether they can operate in Ontario after March 31, new statistics reveal that more than 600 Ontarians died from opioid overdoses in the first half of last year.

Public Health Ontario updated their data last week and it shows that 638 people in Ontario died from opioid overdoses from Jan. to June 2018.

In 2017, 1,265 Ontarians died from opioid-related causes, a major increase from 2016, which had 867.

“The data released today represent individuals who have lost their lives, loved ones who have left behind families, communities, and others who may be struggling with problematic substance use themselves,” The Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor, Minister of Health said in a release.

“These numbers are heartbreaking. One death is too many in this tragedy. The data released today will help us to continue to develop strategies to reduce deaths and to better inform public health interventions and policies for us all.”

“The overdoses aren’t what people think that they are. People don’t realize what’s in their drugs, they are taking some kind of pills that can be laced with opioids.” Addictions Specialist Jefferson Ribout said.

“The dealers are putting fentanyl in just about everything because it’s cheap. It’s a big issue in that way.”

New analysis from the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) shows an increase in opioid poisoning and hospitalization rates across the province. So far this year, there is an increase in opioid-related emergency department visits compared to 2018, a move up to 6,688 from 5,909. There’s also been a decrease in hospitalizations 1,544 compared to 1,623 last year.

Supervised consumption sites are expected to be able to renew their licenses as their old ones expire as of March 31.

International and Canadian evidence shows that supervised consumption sites (SCS) save lives. Over the past 18 months, there have been more than 120,000 visits to these sites across Canada, and more than 1,100 reported overdoses reversed without a single death on any of the sites.

“Supervised consumption sites provide a location where people can bring their own illicit substances (substances obtained in an unauthorized manner) to consume under hygienic conditions with the supervision of trained workers thereby reducing health risks such as overdose, infections and increasing access to other health and social services including treatment,” Maryse Durette spokesperson for Health Canada said.

Sites that get approved will shift their focus to rehabilitation and treatment.

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