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Last year nearly 2 million people in Ontario filled opioid prescriptions, approximately 14% of the provincial population, or one out of every seven people (Health Quality Ontario, 2017).  More opioids in communities across Canada leads to increased risk of misuse, abuse and overdose.  This is a concern not only for patients who are prescribed opioids but also their family members, and those who obtain these substances illegally.

Federal and provincial governments have recently released strategies to address some of these issues however additional action is needed at the local and regional levels.  In December of 2016, the Windsor-Essex Community Opioid Strategy Leadership Committee (WECOS-LC) was formed, bringing together leadership and key stakeholders crossing many sectors.  The intent of the committee was to establish commitment to collectively addressing the issue of opioids within Windsor and Essex County.  

An environmental scan of existing community resources and best practices from other regions at the provincial, national, and international levels were used to develop a set of strategies which were further refined through a community consultation process.  The following set of strategies seeks to address the increases in opioid related harms through the consideration of best practices and local needs and will be implemented in partnership with key stakeholders, building upon existing community resources, programs and services.  

  • Support peer engagement and meaningful involvement of people with lived experience, as a critical feature for building local capacity.
  • Support all healthcare providers to play a key role, through appropriate prescribing practices, patient education about opioids and overdose prevention and other pain management options.
  • Provide early education and prevention about opioids and other substance use.
  • Develop a local overdose monitoring and response system.
  • Increase access to a variety of harm reduction options for people who use opioids and those affected by people who use opioids.
  • Address stigma associated with problematic substance use through the development of supportive polices and education of healthcare professionals, community organizations and the public.
  • Work with provincial partners to advocate for increased funding to expand the capacity of the local substance use treatment system.
  • Redefine the role for enforcement agencies and other first responders to build “public safety-public health” partnerships for a safer and healthier community.

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