Simcoe Muskoka Opioid Strategy update looks at successes, challenges in fighting crisis

The Simcoe Muskoka Opioid Strategy’s update looks at the successes and challenges of the plan in combating the opioid crisis.

Some of those accomplishments, the update says, include training 132 health professionals to treat opioid use disorders, establishing three new needle exchange sites and distributing over 7,000 naloxone kits, an antidote for overdoses.

“While there is much more to be done, the SMOS 2018 status update demonstrates significant achievements that have been made to date across our region,” Lisa Simon, the Simcoe Muskoka Opioid Strategy’s co-chair and the associate medical health officer at the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit, said in a statement.

Preliminary data for 2018 indicates that the number of emergency department visits grew in area, the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit says, and that opioid-related deaths from January to September 2018 stabilized.

According to Public Health Ontario, 77.2 per 100,000 people in the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit’s area visited the emergency department for an opioid-related problem in 2017, compared to 54.6 per 100,000 in the rest of the province.

The Aboriginal Health Circle has also developed an Indigenous-led opioid strategy to combat the opioid crisis for North Simcoe Muskoka, which launched May 2018.

In the fall of 2018, the Aboriginal Health Circle collaborated with the Simcoe Muskoka Opioid Strategy to work together on their action plans to fight the opioid problem in the region.

“The roots of addiction run deep, and we know that reaching upstream causes will require sustained efforts over years, and generations, to make meaningful impact on the lives and health of our family members, friends, and neighbours,” Rebecca Van Iersel, clinical vice president of the North Simcoe Mukoka Local Health Integration Network and the Simcoe Muskoka Opioid Strategy co-chair, said.

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