Chatham-Kent officials are sounding the alarm over the opioid crisis after seeing the death rate nearly double during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Statistics revealed during Monday night's council meeting show fentanyl is the most common opioid contributing to the deaths, with men 25 to 44 years of age at the greatest risk

Officials say three people died of overdose in Chatham-Kent last week alone.

Medical officer of health Dr. David Colby says there needs to be a fundamental change in drug laws, highlighting the need for decriminalization.

“It's very important that we train our medical professionals to understand that there has to be very limited use of these compounds to avoid people getting hooked,” says Colby.

He also says 80 per cent of opioid dependent people became so using prescribed medication.