Canada's Underlying Opioid Crisis Continues Amid Pandemic

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Sarah Peddie

Behind the Covid-19 pandemic in the Canadian province of British Columbia drug overdose deaths are four times higher than covid deaths this year. 

In the background, Canada as a whole still has an ongoing Opioid-related overdose crisis on their hands and it has claimed over 15,000 lives since 2016 - 5,000 of those deaths have occured in British Columbia alone. 

On International Overdose Awareness Day, Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada's Chief Public Health Officer said: “We know that using drugs while alone is a major risk factor for experiencing a fatal overdose yet the majority of overdose deaths in Canada occur at home alone. 

“Stigma plays a significant role. Negative attitudes towards people who use drugs can lead people to hide their substance use, and this stigma can also prevent people from seeking help.

“Public health measures designed to reduce the impact of COVID-19 may also increase isolation and create additional barriers for people to access the support they need. People who use drugs need our compassion and support now more than ever before.”

So far, in British Columbia, there have been 900 deaths this year related to drug overdose. This is four times the amount that have died due to the coronavirus in the province. 

However, there are steps being taken to try and tackle the crisis. In Victoria, they have been given one of five automated drug dispensers. 

These dispensers provide safe, doctor prescribed medication to opioid addicts by scanning their palm on the machine. 

The machines are programmed to an individual’s drug needs and these individuals have registered for the programme. 

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