The health unit's opioid surveillance numbers for Sudbury appear to be getting worse.
Newly released statistics from Public Health Sudbury & Districts revealed that from January 2021 to the end of August 2021, Greater Sudbury Paramedic Services responded to 566 opioid-related incidents to provide assistance to people who have drug addictions. This compares to 368 opioid incidents that the paramedics were called out to for the same period in 2020.
Incidentally, in all of 2020, paramedics responded to 683 opioid incidents to give aid.
The busiest month for local opioid calls was March with 89 calls. The lightest month for call outs was May with 59 calls. June, July and August were 79, 75 and 74 responses respectively.
Another statistic that is tracked is the number of suspected accidental overdoses of opioid substances that result in a person being treated at the emergency room (ER) at Health Sciences North (HSN).
From the beginning of the year to the end of August, there have been 356 visits to the ER for suspected accidental overdoses. For comparison, for the same period last year there were 332 visits to the ER for overdose calls.
Also, in all of 2020, there were 562 visits to the ER for suspected overdoses.
In terms of actual overdose deaths, the numbers are less complete, but the health unit report said that from the beginning of the year to the end of March 2021, there were 32 opioid related deaths.
For the same period in 2020, a year previous, the number was 21 deaths.
Another indicator of concern is the distribution of Naloxone kits, which contains a substance that can be administered to reverse the process, or reduce the intensity, of an opioid overdose.
PHSD numbers indicate that from January 2021 to July 2021 more than 16,300 doses of Naloxone were distributed in the Sudbury district. For the same period last year in 2020, the number of kits distributed was more than 10,400. In all of 2020, the health unit said more than 22,400 doses were distributed in the Sudbury public health jurisdiction.
Naloxone kits are distributed free in Ontario as part of a Ministry of Health effort to reduce overdose deaths.
There were no statistics on how many Naloxone doses were used as many of the kits are acquired as a precaution by friends and family members of drug users.