Opioids are highly addictive substances that can change the chemistry of the brain in ways that make it difficult to stop opioid use
Opioids don’t discriminate
Opioid use impacts everyone in our community. No matter your background, job or stage of life. It’s up to us not to assume who is being impacted by this issue.
Opioids are a family of drugs. Some opioids like morphine and codeine come from the opium poppy plant. Other opioids are artificially-created like fentanyl, or are made from morphine, such as oxycodone, hydromorphone and heroin. Opioids vary in strength. Fentanyl, for example, is approximately 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine.
Prescription opioids can help ease suffering for people near the end of life or manage cancer-related pain. They can also help if you are dealing with short-term pain from injuries or after surgery.
Opioids can also have negative effects, ranging from constipation and drowsiness to unconsciousness, reduced breathing, and death.
The impacts of opioid use in Peel
Deaths related to opioid use are rising in Peel and opioids continue to cause significant harm to residents.
Between 2018 and 2020:
- 380 people died
- 350 people were hospitalized
- 1,763 people visited the emergency department
The number of opioid-related deaths in Peel has increased consistently from 46 deaths in 2016 to 156 deaths in 2020.
This increasing trend is expected to continue.
Learn more about how we closely monitor trends in emergency department visits, paramedic calls, hospitalizations and deaths related to opioid use in Peel. View data on opioid overdoses in Peel.
What we're doing
All levels of government and local community organizations are part of ongoing efforts to save lives and reduce harms from opioids. In Peel, our local response includes the development of a Peel Opioid Strategy, that focuses on prevention, harm reduction, treatment, and enforcement and justice. Read Peel's opioid strategy (PDF).
The strategic work of the Peel Opioid Strategy was paused during the COVID-19 pandemic. With the active pandemic response beginning to stabilize in late 2021, Peel Public Health has restarted priority work related to the Harm Reduction Pillar of the Strategy.
See how the Canadian government is responding to the opioid crisis.
We're focusing on the root causes of substance use to reduce harm. There can be many reasons for how and why people develop addictions. We are focusing on mental health, parenting and housing as key factors that may influence substance use.
We're reducing harmful health effects for people who use drugs, such as the spread of infectious diseases like HIV or hepatitis C and preventing overdoses that could lead to death.
In partnership with community agencies, Peel Public Health offers sterile drug use supplies, naloxone distribution services, and overdose prevention training and naloxone training. See the Peel Works Needle Exchange Program for information on how to access harm reduction services in Peel.
Understanding drug use and addiction as a health issue and decreasing stigma towards people who use drugs is a priority.
Supervised drug consumption and treatment services
Supervised drug consumption and treatment services have been shown to prevent or reverse overdoses, decrease the spread of infectious diseases and reduce public drug use.
The Peel Supervised Consumption Site Needs Assessment and Feasibility Study (PDF) looked at the perspectives of people who use drugs, community members and key informants on supervised consumption services in Peel.
Key findings included:
- There is a need for supervised consumption services in the Peel.
- Most people who use drugs (87%) would use a supervised consumption service if available.
- Community consultation should occur to increase acceptability of these services.
View more key findings (PDF) from the needs assessment.
If you're a health care professional visit the Ontario government for details about programs and services relating to opioid harm reduction.
Using Naloxone for an opioid overdose
Naloxone is a medication used to reverse an opioid overdose. It can work very quickly to restore breathing (within 2 to 5 minutes) and is an important life-saving intervention.
Some local pharmacies carry naloxone kits. Find out where to get a free naloxone kit.
- Peel Works Needle Exchange Program
- Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care opioid overdose information
- Stigma around substance use
Our partners in the health sector are working to ensure access to effective addictions and mental health treatment services. Treatment services for opioid use disorder include:
- support groups
- withdrawal management programs.
Medications like methadone or suboxone can help with opioid cravings and withdrawal symptoms to help reduce the harms related to drug use.
Access supports and services:
Enforcement and justice
Our partners in law enforcement are focused on supporting residents who interact with the justice system and working to decrease the supply of illicit drugs, including those contaminated with fentanyl and other dangerous substances. The Peel Regional Police and the Caledon OPP are the key leads for this work.