OPIOID RELATED DEATHS RISING AMOUNT YOUNG ONTARIANS

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A new study out of St. Micheal’s Hospital in Toronto says 1 out of 6 deaths among Ontarians between the ages 25 and 34 were opioids related in 2015.

Among the age group 15 to 24, the rate of opioid-related deaths was found to be 1 in 9. That is almost double of what it was in 2010 at 1 in 15 deaths.

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Tara Gomes, lead author and St. Micheal’s scientist says younger people need better access to information regarding the dangers of illicit drug use and how to get help.

Gomes says it’s time “to get past the stigma of drug use being among addicts”. She goes on to urge better access to overdose-reversing drug naloxone in places that young people might need it, such as music festivals, universities and high schools.

The study shows that opioid-related deaths almost tripled in Ontario form 2000 to 2015.

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The study reviewed all deaths in Ontario from 2000 to 2015 in which illicit or prescribed opioids were a contributing factor. During that time frame, there were 7,719 opioid-related deaths.

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2015 alone saw 733 opioid-related deaths and 97,381 overall deaths. 1 in every 133 deaths in the province was linked to opioids in 2015.

The study wraps up concluding that more resources “are urgently needed” to reach younger adults.

“This is impacting all of our population,” Gomes said.

“Naloxone is away of reducing harm if somebody has overdosed so we need to be more open to providing people with access to this tool, even in environments like high schools, universities, music festivals – all of those different places where youth and young adults might frequent and might be using drugs,” said Gomes.

Opioid-related deaths tend to be older people, Gomes urges its time to consider younger adults and the way they access health services.

“They might be intimidated to go there, they might not know who to ask to access those services, they may not even be comfortable setting up an appointment with their doctor to talk about it if their parents usually set them up with doctor appointments,” Gomes said.

“It’s a very different population and we need to think about how can we better get information to them so that they can promote their own healthcare.”

Ontario saw 159 opioid related deaths aged 25-34 in 2015, and 71 aged 15-24.

Gomes states that “youth and early adulthood is when a lot of people do start to experiment with drugs.”

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Gomes points out that with street drugs, they are often counterfeit and look like legitimate prescription drugs, but may contain fentanyl which poses an even greater danger to people who might be using for the first time.

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