Opioid-related deaths up across province in 2017, including Windsor-Essex
Published Thursday, March 8, 2018 4:16PM EST
Last Updated Thursday, March 8, 2018 4:22PM EST
Opioid related deaths are up across the province by a whopping 52 percent.
The province said Wednesday there were 1,053 opioid-related deaths from January to October 2017, compared with 694 during the same time period in 2016.
It also said there were there were 7,658 emergency department visits related to opioid overdoses from January to October of last year, up from 4,453 during the same time period the previous year.
Locally, the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit says the death rate is still too high.
Stats show there were 37 opioid-related deaths in 2016, and from January to September in 2017, there were 19 deaths.
That compares to 24 opioid deaths in Windsor-Essex in 2015.
Acting Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Wajid Ahmed, says not all of the deaths are from recreational use.
He points to stats that show nearly 2-million people in Ontario fill prescriptions for opioids every year.
Dr. Ahmed tells CTV Windsor the free availability of naloxone kits is helping to improve the situation.
“Anyone can go to the pharmacy and pick up a naloxone kit. The health unit also provides naloxone kits to community agencies and that's why the availability of these naloxone kits is pretty high in the community."
In December, the Public Health Agency of Canada said the number of overdose deaths for last year were expected to surpass 4,000 once all provinces reported their data, far more than the 2,861 opioid-related fatalities reported in 2016.
The new figures released Tuesday came as the province said Ontario pharmacies are providing another version of an overdose-reversing drug for free.
Naloxone nasal spray is now available at no charge in addition to existing naloxone kits, which include an injectable version of the drug meant as an emergency treatment for opioid overdoses.
The Ontario government has pledged to spend more than $222 million over three years to tackle the growing opioid crisis in the province, with money earmarked to expand harm reduction services and hire more frontline staff.