More and more Canadians are dying from drug overdoses – and the coronavirus is to blame

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Shawn Richards started the month of March 2020 clean and sober.

L’Orillia, Ont. the man was completing a three-month opioid addiction rehabilitation program and regularly attended meetings of Narcotics Anonymous. But by the end of the month, Richards was dead.

Her mother believes that the COVID-19 pandemic is at least partly to blame.

“When Shawn came out (of rehabilitation), the NA meetings closed, they stopped five gatherings of people and so they were closed,” said Richards’ mother Johanne Logue.

“Shawn’s gymnasium closed – which he faithfully attended – his work slowed down because it was all about emergency repairs and his baseball was canceled. “

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“So with that and Shawn being a drug addict, he started to isolate himself and not be able to see his family or friends. (He) said to me, “Mom, I feel like I’m leaning against the wall.”

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On March 30, Logue found his son dead at his home. She says he died from an overdose of fentanyl.

“I lost my son and I think it could have been avoided if things had been opened to him.”










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“We are in a really, really difficult time because the COVID-19 pandemic intersects with the opioid crisis in some of the worst possible ways,” said Gillian Kolla, Toronto Overdose Prevention Society volunteer and researcher at the university. from Toronto.

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Although we do not yet know the full impact that social distancing policies have had on overdose rates, early figures suggest that the news is not good.

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According to the BC Coroners Service, there were 113 suspected deaths from illicit drug toxicity in March 2020.

This number represents a 61% increase over the number of deaths in February and the first time the province has recorded more than 100 deaths in a month since March of last year.

“With the arrival of COVID-19, people were unable to access and use the services as they were, and of course people are trying to do what they are told,” said Jane Buxton, manager Harm Reduction Medical Center at the BC Center for Disease Control.

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“They are trying to distance themselves physically and that may mean that they are not participating in the services they need to help. “










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The city of Toronto has also experienced a sharp increase in drug overdose deaths since the start of social distancing. In April, 25 people died from drug overdoses, a level not seen in nearly three years.

Overdose figures have not yet been compiled in Alberta, but an Alberta Health spokesperson said Edmonton hospitals have seen a noticeable increase in the number of patients with an opioid overdose.

“Overdose admissions went from nine to 14 a day between April and May,” said Kassandra Kitz, press secretary to the Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addiction, in an email to Global News.

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“We don’t have data from the coroner or anything yet, but we have heard of an increase in deaths,” said Stacey Carmichael, executive director of the Turning Point Society in Red Deer, Alberta.

Turning Point operates the only overdose prevention site in the city. Carmichael says that since the site opened, the group has rarely heard of overdose deaths in the community.

In the past three weeks, however, Carmichael said she had heard of about three.

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“We hear about ‘this or that overdose and death last night’, then we confirm it; I think the protocol comes from three different sources.

“We know it happened. “

Friday, Heather Yourex-West examines what can be done to help people addicted during the COVID-19 pandemic and how some Canadian jurisdictions have adapted harm reduction services to align with distancing protocols COVID-19.

If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs help, resources are available. In an emergency, please call 911 for immediate assistance.

The Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention, Depression Hurts and Kids Help Phone 1-800-668-6868 all have ways to get help if you, or someone you know, is suffering mental health issues.

See the link »

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.



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