In Canada, the pandemic leads to increased overdose of opiates

Au Canada, la pandémie entraîne une hausse des overdoses d’opiacés

Luc Laplante, homeless drug addict for 37 years, has lost three of his friends in recent months: they are all dead from an overdose of opiates, a phenomenon to increase sharply in Canada since the crisis of the sars coronavirus.

Isolation, less access to support services to drug addicts and rooms “shoot”, a health priority given the Covid-19… This increase of overdose since the beginning of the pandemic has multiple reasons.

Luc Laplante suggests another reason: lack of supervision of the delivery of the canadian emergency, paid by the government of Justin Trudeau to ensure a monthly income of 2,000 canadian dollars (1,300 euros) to the employees finding themselves without income due to the coronavirus.

According to him, the government has assigned this premium without controls is too strict, the risk of the fraud to multiply.

“People have asked for financial help from the government related to the Covid-19 and were then spent on drugs in the first place”, he says, a few hours after having survived an excessive dose of fentanyl, a powerful opiate.

The “coroner” of Ontario, the public officer responsible for investigating deaths in violent or suspicious, estimates that the number of fatal overdoses has increased by 25% in the last three months.

In British Columbia (west), the number of deaths from overdoses has jumped by 40% compared to the same period last year.

“In a dramatic way, other jurisdictions around the country report similar trends,” said the director-in-chief of the public health agency of Canada, Theresa Tam, last month.

Double health crisis

Dr. Tam has been reported “clusters of overdoses attributable to mixtures of unknown or unusual patterns of illicit substances toxic” in several cities, including Toronto and Calgary.

The physician-in-chief of the British Columbia Bonnie Henry, has withheld his tears during a recent press conference, after it announced that the 170 deaths related to overdose in may was greater than the number of deaths from the coronavirus in the province.

“The Covid-19 is not our only health crisis”, she underlined.

In Ottawa, three rooms “shoot” of the district of the Lower Town, in the centre of the capital, have reduced by half the number of places reserved for drug abusers, in order to comply with the new rules of distancing.

Luc Laplante explained that he was alone in a parking lot when he injected a dose on Monday night, to relieve a knee pain.

It was a lot “harder drugs” as it has the habit of taking, insists Mr. Laplante, after being revived by paramedics, who were accused by a passerby.

“We had already a lot to manage with the crisis of the opioids, but we were making some progress. Then the pandemic hit,” says Anne Marie Hopkins, the community organization, Ottawa Inner City Health, which operates a supervised injection facility.

Ms. Hopkins says that some of the people she helped have received the government grant, they were then used to pay for a hotel room where they died of drug overdose, alone.

According to a study from the University of British Columbia published Thursday, 59% of Canadians with mental health problems, who may find themselves homeless and drug addicts, have felt a decline in their well-being during the pandemic.

For Ms. Hopkins, “it is a period of frightening for many people already suffering from trauma”.

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