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Pandemic-driven surge in opioid-related poisonings in Simcoe Muskoka: SMDHU


Health officials in Simcoe Muskoka report a significant increase in opioid-related poisonings during the pandemic.

"In 2017, to let's say 2019, in Simcoe Muskoka, there were 248 opioid-related poisonings during that time period, and you compare that to the time frame of 2020 to the end of 2022, which is when things started to shift a little bit, we're looking at 440 people who tragically lost their lives.

So, that's one person losing their life roughly every two to three days," said Cathy Eisener with the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit.

Officials said Barrie and Orillia were the top two cities impacted across the region.

"During that time frame of that 2020 to the end of 2022, we are looking at 193 deaths just in one of our cities. In Orillia, again, a significant increase up to 44 deaths during that time frame," said Eisener.

"For a couple of weeks, there will be a huge number of overdoses or deaths, and then it'll be a little bit more quiet for a little and that ebbs and flows," said Sarah Tilley, Gilbert Centre harm reduction program manager.

Tilley said the pandemic changed how people do drugs.

"Especially as people had to isolate, it really changed, and although things have shifted and some things are going back to what they were pre-pandemic, there's a lot of stuff that's really residual as a result, including how people make relationships and connect and when people are using alone. It increases the risks," said Tilley.

Health officials remind users never to use alone to lower their risk of a tragic outcome. Top Stories

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