Opioid abuse troubling, but booze is still number one
Opioid use in Oxford County is a huge concern, but it’s not the region’s biggest substance abuse problem.
Addiction Services Thames Valley says booze remains the Oxford’s no. 1 problem substance, with half of those entering a treatment facility struggling with alcohol addiction.
“In my 29 years here, alcohol has never lost the top billing overall across the counties for mostused drug and most reported as a problem,” said Linda Sibley, the agency’s executive director. “We track changes year-over-year in the reported drug-use trends as well as the drugs that are considered by the client to be a problem. There was a dramatic shift in the last five years, but alcohol has never lost the top spot overall.”
Sibley said when broken down by age, younger clients are less likely to report alcohol as a concern and it is more frequently reported after age 24.
Currently, the largest demographic in Oxford County being treated by ADSTV are adults aged 25 to 34, followed by those aged 35 to 44.
After alcohol, opiates currently account for 34 per cent of those being treated for substance abuse, followed by methamphetamine at 17 per cent, cocaine at 16 per cent, cannabis at 15 per cent and crack at four per cent.
“The risk of opiate overdose is high everywhere and a great cause for concern, of course, regardless of the percentages anywhere,” Sibley said.
Statistics from 2016-17 showed opiate abuse rates running in Oxford running about 10 to 13 per cent higher than those in London or elgin County.
In Oxford last year, there were 39 opioid-related eR department visits (34.6 per 100,000 population) and 21 opioid-related hospitalizations (18.6 per 100,000).
Across Ontario, there were 31.7 eR visits per 100,000 people and 13.7 hospitalizations per 100,000.
While the county’s seven opioid-related deaths were similar to provincial rates, Oxford’s rates for hospital visits were higher than the provincial average.
“There is concern about opioid deaths and an increase in hospital visits,” said Joanne Andrews, health protection supervisor for Oxford County Public Health. “One of our projects is the naloxone distribution program that provides injection drug users or those at risk with medication that reverses the effect of opioid overdose, as well as information on how to prevent an overdose.”
For more information drop by Oxford County Public Health at 410 buller St. in Woodstock or call 519-537-9800.
To find out where to get free naloxone kits locally, visit www. ontario.ca/page/get-naloxonekits-free.