The Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU), which includes the United Counties of Prescott and Russell, Cornwall, and the United Counties of Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry, reported 80 emergency department visits to hospitals for opioid overdoses in 2020. Just 34 overdoses were reported in 2019.
EOHU Medical Officer of Health Dr. Paul Roumeliotis said mental health issues and drug use had increased during the pandemic. “That is an ongoing consequence of the lockdown and the pandemic and this is another reason for us to get out of this as quickly as possible,” he said.
In June last year, the EOHU had noted a rise in overdoses in the region, especially in Cornwall. Many of those overdoses had been linked to “purple heroin”, “purple”, or “purp”, but others were connected to the mixing of drugs and alcohol.
The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) said frontline officers had used naloxone, a medication used to counter the effects of overdoses, had been used 210 since it was first issued in September 2017. The number of overdoses police attended increased by 38 percent between 2019 and 2020.
Commissioner Thomas Carrique urged anyone who saw an overdose to call 911 and stay with the victim to provide support. “People from every age group and every socioeconomic background continue to be affected by opioids in Ontario,” he said.
Sixty-eight percent of the naxolene recipients were male and 32 percent were female, while the average age was 35.5 and 34.4 for males and females respectively. Most of the incidents happened in homes.