WINDSOR, ONT. -- Ontario Provincial Police are reminding the public of the potentially-lethal consequences of opioid use after 13 overdose deaths so far this year.

Officers in West Region, which includes Essex County and Chatham-Kent, responded to 12 suspected opioid overdose incidents, including three fatalities between May 1 and May 17.

So far in 2020, there have been 52 suspected opioid overdoses and 13 deaths in West Region.

In 2019, there were 37 confirmed or suspected fatal opioid overdoses in communities served by OPP West Region.

Overall, OPP West Region officers responded to 234 confirmed or suspected overdoses in 2019.

The Windsor Essex County Opioid and Substance Strategy issued an alert on Thursday after 18 overdose cases in a week.

The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit’s surveillance and monitoring system identified the increase in substance misuse and overdose-related Emergency Department visits between May 12 and May 18.

Fentanyl was detected in 12 of the 18 overdose cases reported by the hospitals, as well three additional overdoses which involved other opioids.

Officials have not released details on the severity of the overdoses in Windsor-Essex or if they resulted in death.

OPP say overdoses highlight the fact that the misuse and abuse of controlled substances is dangerous and can be deadly.

Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid pain reliever that is similar to morphine and is estimated to be 50 - 100 times stronger. Carfentanil is a toxic synthetic opioid that is not intended for human consumption.

Police say both of these opioids sometimes get mixed into street drugs which can cause serious health issues including death, even in small quantities.

The OPP continues to work with community partners to strategically and collaboratively address the opioid crisis at the local and provincial levels by focusing on prevention, treatment, harm reduction and enforcement.

OPP say they need the public's support and assistance to hold drug traffickers accountable for these deaths.

Residents can help by providing the police with information that can lead to arrests and criminal charges. If you have information, please call the OPP at 1-888-310-1122 or your local police. To remain anonymous, contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS) or visit