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Opioid strategy work continues as crisis worsens

Dec 10, 2020
SIMCOE MUSKOKA – While the efforts of the Simcoe Muskoka Opioid Strategy (SMOS) to address the opioid crisis have been somewhat interrupted by COVID-19, critical work continues amidst a worsening local situation.

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SIMCOE MUSKOKA – While the efforts of the Simcoe Muskoka Opioid Strategy (SMOS) to address the opioid crisis have been somewhat interrupted by COVID-19, critical work continues amidst a worsening local situation.

“The pandemic may have pushed the opioid crisis out of the spotlight, but the crisis and the burden associated with it has not gone away; in fact, COVID-19 has made a difficult situation even more challenging,” said Dr. Lisa Simon, associate medical officer of health for the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit, and chair of the SMOS Steering Committee. “Opioid use, addiction and overdose is an urgent and complex problem in our region and the work of SMOS continues to be a high priority as we work towards reducing the harms of opioids in our communities.”

Preliminary data shows that there were 83 confirmed and probable opioid-related deaths in Simcoe Muskoka for the first eight months of 2020, which was 51% higher than the average of 55 deaths from January to August for the previous three years. SMOS partner agencies have also identified an increase in overdoses amongst clients.

Some of the recent work of SMOS, which includes efforts to understand and address the negative effects of the pandemic - and public health measures to control it - on those who use substances, have been updated on preventOD.ca. Highlights include:

  • Producing the 2019 SMOS Scorecard and Dashboard, which highlights activities and interim outcomes achieved for the second year of the three-year SMOS strategy.
  • Planning the SMOS Statistics Canada Data Project, which will bring together data and provide an analysis of the health, justice, social and economic circumstances of confirmed illicit drug overdose deaths in the Simcoe Muskoka area.
  • Continued promotion of the Brain Story Certification program, which provides an understanding of the science about how the experiences we have in the earliest years of our lives change our brain architecture in lasting ways. Since March 2018, 468 people from various backgrounds in Simcoe Muskoka have participated in the program.
  • Continued work to identify site locations in downtown Barrie for a supervised consumption site (SCS) by the SCS Selection Advisory Committee.

SMOS is a large partnership of agencies, organizations and individuals that is working together to address the crisis of opioid use and overdose in the region. Its strategy is organized by pillars that include prevention, treatment, harm reduction, enforcement, emergency management, data and evaluation, and lived experience. While the SMOS Action Plan ends at the end of 2020, SMOS is initiating a planning process for a regional drug strategy for the years to come.

For more information on the SMOS Action Plan and related work, visit www.preventod.ca. For local opioid trends, including opioid-related deaths and opioid poisonings, see HealthSTATS.org or call Health Connection to speak with a public health professional weekdays 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at 705-721-7520 (1-877-721-7520).

The Simcoe Muskoka Opioid Strategy is a collective comprehensive strategy aimed at reducing opioid harms in Simcoe and Muskoka.

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