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One person in Ontario dies every 7 hours from Opioids according to OPP

KAWARTHA LAKES-Today, the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) Opioids Working Group(OWG) released their Opioids and Overdoses: Impact and Strategies report, highlighting an alarming increase of opioid overdoses and deaths across Ontario. The report contains information relating to OPP opioid seizures, overdoses and relevant strategies.

According to the report theres been a 35 per cent increase in overdose deaths during the first quarter of 2019, compared to the first quarter of 2018. Since September 2017, the OPP has administered naloxone on 79 occasions and saved 73 lives. OPP has administered the highest number of naloxone doses in March and April 2019.

“Every life matters; meaning every overdose occurrence will be thoroughly investigated. We owe it to each victim to thoroughly investigate every occurrence so we can target those who produce, import and traffic these harmful and deadly substances.” said OPP Superintendent Bryan MacKillop, Director, Organized Crime Enforcement Bureau.

This report highlights the OPP’s response to the opioid crisis, including findings related to trends and statistics.

Statistical Highlights:

  • 1,265 Ontarians lost their lives from opioid-related causes in 2017, which was up from 865 deaths in 2016. On average, based on the statistics, one person in Ontario dies every seven hours from opioids.
  • OPP members attended over 620 overdose occurrences in 2016; 893 in 2017; and 1,373 in 2018. This represents a 121 per cent increase over a three-year period. Of the 1,373 overdose occurrences, there were a total of 849 suspected non-opioid related overdoses; 49 were fatal.
  • Since 2016, the number of opioid-related overdoses has increased. In 2018, the OPP responded to a total of 524 suspected opioid-related overdoses; 95 were fatal. This represents a 157 per cent increase over a three-year period. For fatal suspected opioid-related overdoses, 75 per cent of the victims were male with an average age of 41 years and 25 per cent were female with an average age of 46 years.
  • All types of overdose occurrences are predominant in OPP’s Central and West Regions.
  • Since September 2017, the OPP has been carrying naloxone. Between September 2017 and March 2019, naloxone has been used in 60 occurrences, resulting in 55 lives saved; 27 of those occurrences were in West Region, followed by 10 in each Central and North East Regions, six in both East and North West Regions and one in Highway Safety Division.
  • From 2016-2018, in order of largest to smallest, the largest numbers of suspected opioids seized by the OPP were: oxycodone, hydromorphone, fentanyl (including fentanyl analogues) and heroin.1 These opioids were also the most commonly identified by Health Canada’s Drug Analysis Service (DAS) in the first quarter of 2018.

    The OWG updated the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and safe handling procedures regarding the search and seizure of all illicit substances including opioids for OPP officers and integrated the changes into policy and training. There is a three-tiered response to all drug investigations. Within each tier, there are increasing levels of PPE and corresponding training available to OPP members. The OPP’s Organized Crime Enforcement Bureau (OCEB) is able to respond to all levels of risk in relation to the search and seizure of any controlled substance. In 2018, presumptive drug testing devices (that use ion mobility spectrometry) were acquired and positioned across the province to test and identify illicit substances. These devices enable the OPP to identify officer and public safety risks as quickly as possible.

Police say the focus of the OPP Opioids Working Group during the past year has been to establish foundational elements to respond to the opioid crisis and understand the impacts of overdoses and opioids. New reporting and analytical tools have been made available to position the OPP to be more proactive in our approach to the opioid crisis.

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Pamela Vanmeer
Pamela Vanmeerhttps://www.kawartha411.ca/
Pamela VanMeer is a two time winner of the prestigious Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA) Award. Her investigative reports on abuse in Long Term Care Homes garnered international attention for the issue and won the Ron Laidlaw Award. She is a former reporter and anchor at CHEX News, now Global Peterborough and helped launch the New CHEX Daily, a daily half hour talk show. While at CHCH News in Hamilton she covered some of the biggest news stories of the day.

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