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A new study reveals that twice as many Canadians now die from unintentional poisoning, like overdoses, than do in transport-related accidents.
The study details that around 13 Canadians per day died of opioids alone in the year 2018. This accounts for a total of 4614 deaths in Canada from opioids, with around 1500 of them alone being in the province of British Columbia.
According to the study, which was performed by the charitable group Parachute, almost half of all deaths from opioid overdose were men in the 30-49 age group. The study also includes a detailed breakdown of the top causes of death by poisoning by substance, with fentanyl being a factor in a whopping 87% of these deaths. It was also noted that the rate of overdose has gone up this year due to the pandemic.
Furthermore, and perhaps most alarmingly, many of these overdoses occurred even in cases where victims were not increasing the amount they were using. This is due to the increasing amount of contamination of supplies of the drugs with extremely potent variations such as fentanyl, which is known to cause respiratory arrest and death at very low concentrations.
"We're losing people who can contribute to Canada, and [losing] lives ... that don't need to be lost," said Pamela Fuselli, president and CEO of Parachute, and co-author of the study. "We know that the vast majority of these are preventable."
The study recommends various methods of harm reduction to help curb this disturbing trend of fentanyl-based overdoses. These include reducing stigma associated with use, expanding treatment and rehabilitation services. Also recommended are safe use sites, such as the machines the BC government has been rolling out recently. In addition, it recommends having naloxone on hand at all times if there is an opioid user in the house.