Federal report says lockdowns are causing opioid deaths to soar and a mental health crisis

Alberta, which was already facing an opioid crisis before the pandemic, saw 302 opioid related deaths between April and June of this year.


A new report released by the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) says that COVID-19 lockdowns have resulted in more Canadians suffering from poor mental health and a rising opioid related death following increasing rates of substance abuse.

The report states that British Columbia has seen over 100 drug related deaths for over six months this year, with that number climbing past 175 in the summer months. In Ontario opioid deaths rose by about 50 percent, with 220 people dying in the month of May.

Alberta, which was already facing an opioid crisis before the pandemic, saw 302 opioid related deaths between April and June of this year. This totals to thousands of lives lost, as a result of COVID-19 lockdowns.

Social distancing measures also had a negative impact on the opioid numbers. PHAC heard from front line workers who said that the social distancing measures at safe injection sites prevented them from assuring a safe place for all those who were seeking to inject themselves.

The PHAC report also found that alcohol, cannabis, and tobacco use went up during the lockdowns. Statistics Canada found that about 1 in 5 Canadians said that their consumption of alcohol had increased, while cannabis use went up 8.3 percent and smoking rates went up 3.9 percent.

While the usage of substances is up, exercise is down, which led to 3 in 10 Canadians gaining weight during the first lockdown. The lack of exercise has specifically impacted younger Canadians, whose sporting activities had been cancelled.

It is important to remember that provincial governments across Canada were quick to shut down gyms and churches during the first wave of the pandemic, while allowing liquor stores, pot dispensaries, and fast food joints to stay open.

"Limited physical activity as a result of public health measures to physically isolate may also have an impact on mental health. Research has demonstrated that people who were able to engage in physical activity outdoors were more likely to report excellent or very good mental health,” said PHAC.

Canadians are also much less happy due to the lockdowns, as Canada is no longer one of the happiest countries in the world according to a UN report. In fact, the report shows that lockdowns have created a mental health crisis.

In 2018, 68 percent of Canadians 15 and older said they had good mental health, but that figure dropped to 54 percent in late March before hitting a low 48 percent in early May. Those figures are worse in marginalized groups, including indigenous Canadians, the LGBT community, and low-income people.

Now as Canada is seeing a second wave and governments are reimposing lockdowns, many health professionals are speaking out. Thousands of doctors have signed the Great Barrington Declaration, which calls on governments across the globe to end lockdowns and to not reimpose them.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has also asked governments to stop using lockdowns as a primary method of dealing with COVID-19. Citing the consequences of lockdowns, especially on the economy.


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