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ONTARIO: Advocates say where you live may affect your chances of surviving an opioid overdose

The Public Health Agency of Canada says 2,000 Canadians died in the first six months of 2018 from opioid-related overdoses
(via Thinkstock)

Harm-reduction advocates say your chances of surviving an overdose crisis may depend on where you live, based on the fact that supervised consumption sites only exist in four provinces. 

Jordan Westfall of the Canadian Association of People Who Use Drugs says services like supervised consumption sites have saved countless lives but they only exist in four provinces. 

"With Narcan (a naloxone producer) and supervised consumption, there are large parts of the country that don't have these services at all," says Westfall. "These are lifelines for people who are at-risk of overdose that are not accessible to people."

Westfall says access to naloxone is also limited.

Rebecca Jesseman of the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction says there is a good reason for the geographic variation.

"If we go back to the idea that the number of overdose deaths is, in fact, concentrated in BC, Ontario, and Alberta, then that aligns with what we're seeing in matching the response to where the problem is located."

The Region of Waterloo is looking at installing safe injection sites in our three hospitals to help combat the situation.

Jesseman says, however, that overdose-prevention services often fail to meet individuals' needs based on factors like language and gender. 

"One of the gaps in services is responding a bit better to some of the geographic and population differences in Canada," says Jesseman. "We have very limited services that are specifically addressing the needs of First Nations people, for example."

In 2017 the Region had 86 opioid-related deaths.

The Public Health Agency of Canada says opioids killed an estimated 9,000 Canadians between January 2016 and June 2018, with 2,000 of those happening in the first half of last year.

Almost three-quarters involved fentanyl.

You can find a free naloxone kit pick-up and training site near you.

With files from the Canadian Press.

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