Overdose rates are continuing to rise in Ottawa

The overdose crisis is hitting Ottawa just as hard as the rest of the province.

Newly released data from the province shows that emergency room visits for suspected opioid overdoses in Ottawa between January and February rose 36.5 per cent in 2017 compared to the previous year.

The numbers track closely to overall provincial numbers, which reflect an increase slightly north of 37 per cent during that period.

According to provincial data, 71 people were brought to the emergency room with confirmed opioid-related overdoses in three months, compared to 52 the previous year.

The data released by the province lags behind data gathered by Ottawa Public Health, but is also considered more accurate, as the weekly data releases from the city don't specifically track opioid-related overdoses, said spokesperson Donna Casey.

Those are the most up-to-date statistics that the province has released, and while they paint an unambiguous picture of the mounting overdose crisis, public health officials in Ottawa have pointed out that as 2017 has progressed, the crisis has only gotten worse.

In a presentation to the Board of Health on Monday night, Andrew Hendriks of Ottawa Public Health noted that, anecdotally, paramedics and community health workers have had an extremely challenging summer, with a sharp uptick in the number of drug overdoses beginning in May as the weather improved with the summer.

Wendy Muckle of Inner City Health gave an even more alarming insight, noting that in their work with the homeless community in the ByWard Market neighbourhood, naloxone is being administered to reverse an otherwise almost certainly fatal overdose once every 12 hours, on average.

“Now more than ever, we are seeing that people are dying,” said Coun. Catherine McKenney on Monday. “They are preventable deaths.”

According to data from Ottawa Public Health, city paramedics have reversed at least 104 overdoses with naloxone.

By Kieran Delamont
Source: Metro News