It is clear that changes are required at all levels to tackle the complex issues contributing to the opioid crisis in Windsor and Essex County. Individual agencies will need to work in effective partnerships to develop comprehensive solutions and community-level initiatives to reduce the harms associated with opioid use and enhance the quality and range of services and supports for substance use issues, in this region.
In recent years, successful work has been done to address complex public health issues by forming community partnerships. These projects have shown that there are guidelines and principles that can help begin and maintain effective partnerships, such as trust, good communication and commitment (Morrel-Samuels, 2016). In order to build these relationships across sectors, among a variety of service providers, and between people with lived experience and families, proper preparation, time and supportive structures, such as funding and strong leadership are required for successful outcomes (Addiction and Mental Health Collaborative Project Steering Committee, 2015).
To action the above-mentioned recommendations, four pillar-based working groups will be formed to support change and project implementation in Windsor and Essex County. Working groups will consist of community stakeholders with complementary skills committed to a common purpose and set of activities. In areas where there are good working relationships already in place, activities may progress more quickly, however the collective effort of all groups will be critical in reducing the harms related to opioid use in this region. In all cases, people with lived experience (addicts, family/friends of addicts) should be represented at working group tables.