Ottawa officials brace for ‘perfect storm’ as COVID-19 contributes to increase in drug overdoses

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Even some laudable measures put in place to deal with the fallout from COVID-19 have resulted in unintended harm. Sarrazin cites the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) program that has helped so many overcome the financial maelstrom created by the coronavirus as an example, providing people with consumption disorders with substances a steady flow of silver, thus removing them from the daily hustle and bustle. . Getting out of this routine is one of the goals of Safer Supply Ottawa, but without as many supports in place to direct those energies towards needs such as health care, housing and employment, it often leads to a slowdown. before, two recoil situation.

The sheer decrease in contact imposed by COVID-19 between healthcare professionals and those who use illicit opioids and other drugs, says Boyd of Sandy Hill, is a barrier to treatment.

“It’s hard to go beyond that initial threshold of treatment, so it’s very useful when you have frequent contact with health professionals or social workers or drop-in or shelter staff where, at the time you want change, someone is there to help you continue your motivation for that change. ”

Additionally, Boyd notes, some services no longer benefit a large portion of the population who use supervised consumption sites, such as Sandy Hill’s addiction and mental health counseling, which is now done online rather than in person. .

“The social system has really collapsed for them.”

The decline in supports, Barnes further points out, comes at a time when COVID-19 is also starting fear and anxiety on an already vulnerable group whose additional stress response, in many cases, is to turn around more frequently. to opioids.

“This is what is happening,” he said, “and it’s worrying.”

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