A new report by Health Quality Ontario (HQO) reveals that Ontarians filled more than nine million prescriptions for opioids in 2015/16, up by nearly 450,000 prescriptions from three years earlier. The report also shows that nearly two million people in Ontario fill prescriptions for opioids every year – translating into one in every seven Ontarians, or 14 percent of the province’s population. Opioids prescribed have also shifted toward stronger types like hydromorphone and away from weaker opioids like codeine.
The over prescription of these medications has contributed to an increase in the harms associated with opioids in the province, including addiction and overdose deaths. To respond to this situation, the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care announced an opioid strategy in October 2016 which focused on modernizing prescription practices, providing high-quality addiction treatment, and provision of additional resources to chronic pain clinics.
CMHA Ontario and Addictions and Mental Health Ontario developed a response which highlights the need for comprehensive community based addictions and mental health care across the province to respond to this complex issue.
For more information on HQO’s findings and to read 9 Million Prescriptions: What we know about the growing use of prescription opioids in Ontario, visit the HQO website.