The number of opioid-related overdose deaths are anticipated to surpass 4,000 in 2017.
The Public Health Agency of Canada reported the figures this week, noting that the number of opioid-related mortalities has doubled in 12 months. In Ontario alone, we lost 867 lives to this crisis.
In 2016, 53 per cent of overdoses were due to illicit fentanyl, a powerful and potentially deadly opioid that is increasingly finding its way into street drugs across the country.
There has been a 2,000 per cent increase in street drugs tested for fentanyl and/or its analogues. In 2012, only 217 of the street drug samples tested positive for fentanyl. In 2016 that number rose to 4,568.
While there is no singular response to Canada’s deepening opioid crisis, being prepared with naloxone is an option to assist in preventing overdose deaths due to opioids. As an antagonist, naloxone will temporarily reverse an opioid overdose.
To help organizations and individuals handle the opioid crisis, the Canadian Mental Health Association Ontario division has developed a toolkit, Reducing Harms: Recognizing and Responding to Opioid Overdoses in your Organization. It is now available in both French and English.
The toolkit provides:
- An overview of the current situation in Ontario related to opioids, naloxone, and opioid-related emergencies, including definitions and facts.
- Explanations of symptoms and who may be at-risk of an opioid overdose.
- Information about where to get naloxone and instructions about how to use it.
- Information about caring for an individual after they receive naloxone.
- Information about supporting employees in the aftermath of an opioid emergency.
- Considerations about implementing a naloxone-delivery policy, including myth-busting information about naloxone administration.
- Posters, template policies and frequently asked questions regarding the opioid crisis.
If you would like more information on either the ‘Reducing Harms’ toolkit or steps organizations can take to handle the opioid crisis, please contact Jean Hopkins, Addictions and Complex Care Policy Analyst at firstname.lastname@example.org.