February 21, 2017
Ontario’s response to the opioid crisis needs to focus not only on keeping people alive, but on enhancing supports and services to assist people in their recovery.
This is the central message in the joint response to Ontario’s Strategy to Prevent Opioid Addiction and Overdose delivered by Addictions and Mental Health Ontario (AMHO) and the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA).
AMHO and CMHA commend the government for taking steps to address this complex public health crisis that touches individuals, families and communities across the province. While we are pleased to see important and much-needed steps being taken, such as increasing access to Naloxone and Suboxone, we note that the relationship between those with substance use disorder and community based support is largely absent in the strategy.
Data from 2015 shows that Ontario lost over 700 individuals to opioid overdoses, a 40% increase from 514 deaths in 20101. Although the province has not yet released data on 2016, from what our organizations see on the ground, the fatalities and overdoses continue to rise at alarming rates.
The evidence shows that accessing services and supports in the community increases recovery rates for people seeking treatment for opioid use. Our response provides feedback on implementation of the strategy, and delivers recommendations for how the province can ensure people have access to the services and supports they need to recover.