New national guidelines will improve access to treatment for substance use disorders.
As COVID-19 swept across the country, a second deadly epidemic strengthened its grip on our communities. Deaths due to opioid overdoses have skyrocketed over the past year. In Ontario alone, a 60 per cent increase in opioid deaths was reported in 2020 compared to the previous year. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, the opioid crisis was devastating with 4,460 Canadians dying in 2019—one person every two hours.
The pandemic exacerbated the opioid crisis by disrupting the supply of street drugs, making drugs more expensive, harder to get and of unknown origin or potency. Lockdown measures across the country also increased the risk that people would use alone without anyone to help them in the event of an overdose. A recent CAMH survey shows that 47 percent of respondents indicated their substance use had increased during the COVID-19 pandemic.