Our best chance of battling the opioid crisis currently sweeping across Ontario is for all agencies to work together to find solutions.
That's the message delivered by DRPS Chief Paul Martin, one of several guest speakers at a recent Opioid Forum, hosted by the Durham Region Health Department in Ajax.
Durham Region, like much of Ontario, has seen a dramatic increase in opioid overdoses and deaths. Much of this tragedy is driven by an increase in the misuse of fentanyl, which is 100 times more potent than morphine.
Lakeridge Health Oshawa has seen between 400 and 500 overdose visits to the hospital this year. The DRPS seized fentanyl in 62 cases this year, compared to 24 cases the year before.
In September, Durham Regional Police made national news when it seized 42 kilograms of carfentanil from a Pickering residence, along with a large number of guns. Chief Martin said the seizure represented about 420,000 doses of carfentanil, with a street value of $13 million.
Carfentanil is particularly concerning because it is incredibly powerful. Designed to sedate large mammals like elephants, a single grain in its purest form can kill a human being. It is 100 times more potent than fentanyl.
Last year, there were 865 opioid-related deaths in Ontario and public health officials say 2,816 people died from opioid-related misuse across Canada.
Multiple speakers went up to the podium and everyone agreed that Naloxone - a drug that blocks the effects of opioids - is not a solution, but a temporary fix. Frontline emergency service workers like police officers and paramedics carry supplies of Naloxone and it has been effective in saving several lives in Durham Region.
The Regional Health Department is developing a comprehensive prevention and harm reduction strategy in conjunction with multiple community partners.
Opioid Forum in Ajax (JPG file, 449.3K bytes)