Canada’s Opioid Overdoses Have Surged Since Beginning Of Coronavirus Pandemic

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Marlo Safi Culture Reporter
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Opioid overdoses in Canada have surged since the coronavirus pandemic began, underscoring a worrying nationwide trend, the country’s chief public health officer said Friday according to Reuters.

British Columbia, located in western Canada, had over 100 opioid-related deaths in March and April, a figure that the region had not observed in over a year, Theresa Tam said according to Reuters

“These data indicate a very worrying trend,” Tam said. “It has been over a year since British Columbia observed numbers this high sustained over a two-month period.”

Bags of heroin, some laced with fentanyl, are displayed before a press conference regarding a major drug bust, at the office of the New York Attorney General, September 23, 2016 in New York City.. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Bags of heroin, some laced with fentanyl, are displayed before a press conference regarding a major drug bust, at the office of the New York Attorney General, September 23, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

While British Columbia is the epicenter of the country’s overdose crisis, the trend is also seen in Toronto, located on the other side of Canada, where paramedics reported that April had the highest number of opioid-related deaths in a month since September 2017, Reuters reports. Similarly, Calgary experienced a surge in overdose interventions. (RELATED: Father Says Son Didn’t Die From Coronavirus But His Suicide Occurred Because Of It) 

Guy Felicella, a peer clinical advisor with the British Columbia Centre on Substance Abuse, told Reuters that the disruptions in the drug supply chain due to closed borders has made drugs more challenging to get.

“When (drugs become) more challenging to get, the potency goes up, the price goes up, everything goes up, and in that sense it becomes more deadly by the day,” Felicella said.

The closure of services along with prolonged isolation may have also exacerbated overdoses. 

A man uses heroin under a bridge where he lives with other addicts in the Kensington section of Philadelphia which has become a hub for heroin use on January 24, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

A man uses heroin under a bridge where he lives with other addicts in the Kensington section of Philadelphia which has become a hub for heroin use on January 24, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

One mother told Global News that her son’s fentanyl overdose death could’ve been prevented “if things were opened up to him.”

“When Shawn got out (of rehab) the [Narcotics Anonymous] meetings closed, they stopped five people gatherings so they were closed down,” Johanne Logue told Global News about her son.

“So with that and Shawn being an addict, he started isolating and not being able to see family or friends. (He) said to me, ‘Mom I feel like I’m being backed up against the wall.’”