Pandemic worsens Canada’s deadly opioid overdose epidemic

Michael Charles Cole/CBC

Date Published: June 10, 2020

Source: CBC

According to harm-reduction workers and physicians, the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions have increased the toxic supply of drugs, leading to a rising epidemic of fatal overdoses. There has been a 25% increase in fatal overdoses from March 2019 to May 2020 in Ontario. In addition, there was a 39% jump in overdose fatalities in April 2020 compared to April 2019 in British Columbia, and EMS calls related to opioids in Alberta increased from 257 in March to 550 in May. Harm-reduction workers say that street drugs are commonly laced with fentanyl or its analogues, which has contributed to the increase in overdoses. During the pandemic, it has been more difficult for individuals to access their substance of choice. According to a harm-reduction worker in Vancouver, the medical version of a drug, which can be offered to users instead of the street version, does not address what many people are seeking in order to not feel sick from substance withdrawal.

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Summary by: Christina Blagojevic