Windsor

Windsor-Essex officials release 4-focus strategy to battle opioid crisis

The strategy comes after a report in 2016 showed the total rate of opioid users in Windsor-Essex was 18.9 per cent higher than the provincial average. Thirty-seven people died of opioid-related overdoses in 2016.

37 people in the area died of opioid-related overdoses in 2016

Dr. Wajid Ahmed, acting medical officer of health for the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit announces the area's opioid abuse strategy on Jan. 19, 2018. (Dale Molnar/CBC)

Windsor-Essex healthcare officials released their strategy to battle opioid addiction and deaths Friday.

The foundation of the plan comes from four focus areas and includes public education and better access to naloxone kits.

"No single approach or strategy will fully address an issue as complex as the opioid epidemic occurring across the province and country," stated Essex-Windsor EMS Chief Bruce Krauter in a media release. "This set of actions looks beyond what any one of our organizations can do in isolation and towards the collective impact of a number of community groups working towards the same goals."

The strategy comes after a report in 2016 showed the total rate of opioid users in Windsor-Essex was 18.9 per cent higher than the provincial average. Thirty-seven people died of opioid-related overdoses in 2016.

Officials settled on the plan after hearing community feedback on an eight-point proposal released in October.

Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens described the strategy as a "milestone."

Four focuses of the opioid strategy:

Prevention and education:

  • Supporting all heathcare providers to follow "appropriate prescribing practices", patient eduction about opioids, overdose dangers and other options for pain management.
  • Providing early education and prevention about opioids and other substance use.
  • Developing a local overdose monitoring and response system.

Harm reduction:

  • Increasing access to a range of harm reduction options for people who have used opioids.
  • Addressing the stigma associated with problematic substance use through supportive polices and education for healthcare professionals, community groups and members of the public.

Treatment and recovery:

  • Working with provincial organizations to call for increased funding to expand the local substance treatment system.

Enforcement and justice:

  • Redefining the role of enforcement agencies and first responders to build "public safety-public health" partnerships.

Dr. Wajid Ahmed, Acting Medical Officer of Health for the Windsor Essex County Health Unit said the strategy "will take time" and that the committee responsible for this plan are looking for feedback to make sure that it is effectively working. 

Dr. Ahmed also had a message for those struggling with addictions. 

"As a community we want to tell them that we understand that this is an issue and that issue needs to be addressed by the whole community. We care for them and we want to make sure that what we can do as a community to prevent, not only themselves from committing any kind of a harm, but also how we can protect our community."

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