Thirteen Canadians a day were hospitalized for an opioid overdose in
2014-2015, according to the Canadian Institute of Health Information,
and the rate of opioid poisoning hospitalizations has been steadily
What began with the over-prescription of opioids such as OxyContin, a
painkiller once thought to have a low potential for addiction, led to
the diversion of legal drugs to the illegal market, and later to the
dramatic expansion of the illegal production of fentanyl.
As the horror stories of addiction and death multiply, it is clear
that what was once a medical issue is now a population-health crisis.
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According to the Canadian Institute of Health Information (CIHI), the
rate of opioid poisoning hospitalizations has been steadily on the
rise with about 13 Canadians a day hospitalized for an opioid overdose
The over-prescription of opioids such as OxyContin, a painkiller
previously thought to have a low potential for addiction, led first to
the diversion of legal drugs to the illegal market, and later, to the
dramatic expansion of the illegal production of fentanyl.
As the horror stories of addiction and death have multiplied, it is
now clear that what was once a medical issue is now a population
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They're still dealing with crushing grief barely contained, but a
group of Niagara mothers who lost children in the prime of their lives
to overdoses from opioids delivered a powerful message to regional
politicians last week on the desperate need to deal with the opioid
crisis sweeping like a freight train across the country.
The powerful drugs such as fentanyl have left a trail of destruction
starting on the West Coast and moving east, with soaring numbers of
emergency rooms visits due to overdoses in Ontario now.
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At Philip Tulkoff's food-processing plant in Baltimore, machines grind
tough horseradish roots into puree. "If you put your arm in the wrong
place," the owner says, "and you're not paying attention, it's going
to pull you in." It's not a good place to be intoxicated.
Drug abuse in the workforce is a growing challenge for American
business. While economists have paid more attention to the opioid
epidemic's role in keeping people out of work, about two-thirds of
those who report misusing pain-relievers are on the payroll. In the
factory or office, such employees can be a drag on productivity, one
of the U.S. economy's sore spots. In the worst case, they can endanger
themselves and their colleagues.
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I don't really know where to go with this other than The Coast, since
you appreciate input from us random faces in the crowds, and it shows.
I recently stumbled across this article on the Metro chain's Halifax
website: "Woman high on weed in wreck that killed grandkids." That is
terrifying news as our country is striving to make marijuana legal, so
I clicked and read briefly into the article-only to realize it was a
poor copy-paste job from an Associated Press story that omitted half
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Waterloo Regional Police Chief Bryan Larkin says police are gearing up
for the July 1 deadline when pot will be legal in Canada but he says
there is "trepidation and worry" about the upcoming law.
Larkin, who is president of the Ontario Association of Chiefs of
Police, said any new legislation and public policy brings "a lot of
trepidation" and "a lot of worry."
Police are preparing for the July 1 deadline. However, Larkin agrees
with other police services and associations who say the date is arbitrary.
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The sheer magnitude of Ontario's opioid crisis became tragically clear
with last week's revelation that 865 people in this province had died
after overdosing on one of these powerful drugs in 2016.
To put this heartbreaking figure in perspective, consider that in the
same year Ontario recorded 206 homicides while motor vehicle
collisions claimed 482 lives, which included 96 alcohol-related deaths.
People and politicians are rightly committed to protecting human lives
by preventing homicides, making roads safer and cracking down on drunk
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Chief medical examiner's office pores over deaths in opioid fight
EDMONTON - In the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner each morning,
medical examiners, investigators, and morgue staff divide the stack of
files containing unexplained deaths that have come in from the night
Five years ago, this department, headquartered in a low-slung grey
building in Edmonton, investigated between 1,900 to 2,000 cases a year.
But in the last couple of years the caseload has jumped to between
2,500 to 2,600 annually - the bulk of that increase, officials say, is
due to fentanyl and other opioid deaths.
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There are a lot of very smart people in North Bay. It would be
interesting to see if the bright lights here can find an opportunity
hiding in the weeds to solve the opioid crisis.
And I'm not referring to emergency funding injections or quick-fix
More than 700 health-care professionals urged the province this week
to declare an emergency so more funding can flow to Ontario's
Overdose prevention sites, they say, need a boost to stem the tide as
deaths are mounting beyond even the HIV pandemic decades ago.
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In 1805, German apothecary Friedrich Serturner revolutionized the
practice of pharmacy by isolating morphine from opium.
Opium, the latex exuded by the bulb of the poppy plant on scoring with
a sharp instrument, has a long history of use dating back to about
The Sumerians, living in the region that is modern day Iraq, are known
to have cultivated the poppy and were aware of the effects of
consuming its juice, referring to it as the "joy plant."
Judging by artwork depicting Sumerian medicine men carrying poppies,
they were also aware of opium's painkilling abilities.
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Drugs that treat pain are both a blessing and a curse. Too often a
prescription that brings relief leads to addiction and an overdose
Those drugs are classed as opioids. Oxycodone (best know under the
brand name OxyContin) and fentanyl get the most attention at the
moment but old standbys like Demerol, Percodan and Percocet are still
in the mix.
A new study of prescription opioid use done by the Ontario Drug Policy
Research Network has found that Peterborough city and county have the
fourth-highest rate of opioid overdose deaths in the province.
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A new super-powered drug fuelling a deadly opioid epidemic across
Canada has claimed its first Windsor victim.
Windsor police confirmed Thursday that a person found dead on the
front porch of a downtown house died from a carfentanil overdose.
"Carfentanil is designed to tranquilize extremely large animals," said
Sgt. Steve Betteridge. "It is not designed for human consumption. This
is an example of what human consumption will do to you. This is an
extremely dangerous drug."
Carfentanil is a synthetic opioid that is 100 times more powerful that
fentanyl, 4,000 times more powerful than heroin and 10,000 times more
potent than morphine. It's used to tranquilize elephants. A few
milligrams can be lethal to humans.
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On Feb. 4, 2014, my only child died - alone - of an accidental
Jordan's death was a shock. It still is. Looking back, with the
benefit of hindsight, I can connect the dots that led our happy,
outgoing child to become addicted to opioids. Each of those dots
represents an opportunity missed, a lesson to be learned. It's time
those lessons be applied.
Today, Jordan's experience - and ours as parents - is, sadly and
unnecessarily, a common one. At the time, however, we were lost in the
uncertainty of how to help our son.
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Community marks International Overdose Awareness Day for first
A total of 48 opioid-related deaths have been reported in Chatham-Kent
between 2005 and 2016, according to Public Health Ontario, but it's
likely that number is higher.
Jordynne Lindsay, a registered nurse with the Chatham-Kent Public
Health Unit, believes the number of local deaths could be
under-reported due to a difference in the coding used by the
Chatham-Kent Health Alliance emergency department, Chatham-Kent EMS
and Chatham-Kent police.
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Overdose awareness event equal parts memorial and educational
The Ally Centre of Cape Breton is hosting an event for International
Overdose Awareness Day to remember those lost to overdose and bring
awareness to the opioid crisis on the island.
"Each year we try to make an impact, somehow, to draw attention to
overdose and the effect it's having on our communities," explained
Christine Porter, executive director of the Ally Centre.
From 2008-2016, there have been 169 overdose deaths in CapeBreton.
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The Taliban in Afghanistan is now running significant heroin
production lines in the war-torn country to provide jihadists and
insurgents with billions of dollars, western law enforcement officials
And much of that heroin is flowing into Canada.
"More than 90 per cent of all heroin consumed in the US is of Mexican
origin. But in Canada more than 90 per cent of the heroin consumed is
of Afghan origin," said William Brownfield, US Assistant Secretary for
Drugs and Law Enforcement when addressing reporters in the Afghan
capital Kabul recently.
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Psst. Pass the word along. Much like the warning at the '60s Woodstock
concert to avoid the brown acid, authorities are warning today's
recreational drug users to carry naloxone kits in case their drugs are
laced with fentanyl.
"We're alerting recreational drug users that the MDMA (ecstasy) or
cocaine they're taking could be tainted with fentanyl," said Janice
Greco, manager of injury and substance misuse prevention at the Simcoe
Muskoka District Health Unit (SMDHU).
Greco is sounding the alarm after the health unit was warned of a
spike in overdoses between Aug. 9 and Aug. 13 by its surveillance
program at Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre (RVH).
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As deadly fentanyl fuels a public health crisis, Free Press reporter
Jennifer Bieman reveals what you should know about common London
Forget the old adage that what you don't know, can't hurt you. When it
comes to street drugs, what you don't know can kill you.
That was the thrust of a rare public health warning - three health
agencies and London police joined in its release - last week in
London, when authorities stressed that the latest villain in Canada's
opioid drug crisis, deadly fentanyl, is turning up in other illegal
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Sarnia cops warn of opioid-laced street drugs after three overdoses -
one of them fatal - in five hours
Three overdoses in mere hours, one of them deadly - the sinister new
face of Southwestern Ontario's opioid drug crisis has killed again,
this time not a week after a rare public health warning about the
A few grains of the powerful painkiller fentanyl, mixed with cocaine,
likely caused a fatal overdose Wednesday night in Sarnia, prompting a
new warning from police in that city about drugs laced with fentanyl.
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Public health officials are promoting the use of the drug naloxone to
help save people from opioid overdoses.
Seattle's opioid crisis is a complicated medical, political and
emotional issue, but state leaders are attempting to tackle one of the
most immediate concerns facing those on the front line of the fight:
Keeping users alive during an overdose.
The Seattle Police Department implemented a nasal naloxone (also known
Narcan) program in March 2016, training 60 bike officers to administer
the drug to anyone they believed to be suffering from an opioid
overdose. The program has been a modest success, with officers
reviving 20 people thus far according to Officer Steve Redmond, and
there are hopes the program can be expanded department wide.
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