‘It's an epidemic’: Overdoses in Orillia continue to climb
Adam Ward and Rob Cooper, CTV Barrie
Published Tuesday, October 10, 2017 4:30PM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, October 10, 2017 6:32PM EDT
Police in Orillia have been called to nearly two dozen overdose calls since August and expect that number to climb even higher.
Last week, investigators ordered toxicology tests done on the bodies of a 19-year-old man and a 31-year-old man.
They died in a 20 hour window of one another. Police strongly believe drugs had something to do with their deaths.
Those tests will take some time to come back, but underscores an ongoing issue in the city.
“At least double or triple what we would normally see for the year. In such a short period of time, it's only going to increase,” says OPP Const. Martin Hill.
Some medical professionals believe fentanyl is behind the spike in overdoses. Helen Abushawish, a psychotherapist who works with people with addictions, is not surprised to hear the latest numbers.
“It's not a crisis anymore. It’s, it's an epidemic,” she says.
Abushawish has a sort of personal connection to the struggle happening in Orillia. Just two weeks ago she lost a client. Someone she says was doing well.
“He was doing so well and he thought he was doing so well. He overdosed and he is no longer with us anymore.”
Front-line personal are gathering information across the county to try and create an integrated drug strategy. The Simcoe-Muskoka District Health Unit is leading the charge locally.
“We are looking at a four pillar strategy in addressing the opioid situation. That four pillar strategy looks at prevention, treatment, harm reduction and enforcement,” says Claudia Swoboda-Green, a public health nurse.
The goal is to come up with an overall approach on how best to address this critical issue.
The first draft of the strategy is expected next month.