Opi­oid abuse trou­bling, but booze is still num­ber one

Tillsonburg News - - LIFE - Heather rivers HRivers@postmedia.com

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.

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