A recent report by the Canadian Institute for Health Information suggests that Canada’s smaller communities are being hit hardest by the opioid crisis, with hospitalization rates that are more than double those in Canada’s largest cities.
Last year, 22 people were hospitalized in Peterborough due to opioid poisoning.
“At this time in 2017, we believe that there were 20 deaths in Peterborough related to opioids and most of those being accidental overdoses,” said Peterborough police Deputy Chief Tim Farquharson.
Peterborough finds itself among other Ontario cities, including Brantford, St. Catharines-Niagara and Barrie, with the highest number of emergency department visits for opioid poisonings last year.
“It’s easy to get. In Peterborough right now, for people who are using drugs, it’s the purple heroin, which is one of the things that our drug unit is concentrating on. Heroin, morphine and fentanyl, carfentanil mixed,” said Farquharson.
“Why are we seeing over 2.5? There’s going to be different reasons. But still, for me, I’m not sure, and we need to study that. We’ve talked to Trent University on doing a study on that. Why was Peterborough so badly hit?” said Farquharson.
Opioids such as fentanyl, oxycodone, morphine and codeine can be obtained with a prescription or illegally. The report says that if a wrong dosage is taken or if the drugs are mixed with other drugs or alcohol, it can lead to addiction, poisoning or even death.
The report says 9,000 people in Canada have died from an opioid overdose since 2016.
Peterborough police say unified action needs to be taken.
“Working with all our partners, working on the prevention, tailoring our school programming, working on making sure officers have naloxone, looking at an early intervention with our prisoners, advocating for treatment, treatment on demand,” said Farquharson.
Health officials warn that in some cases, it only takes a dose the size of a grain of salt to give a heroin-type high, and just two of those grains is enough to kill.
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