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Between 1,400 and 2,400 people could die from opioid-related harms over the next six months, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada.

This hard projection underscores the importance of addressing this crisis to prevent further deaths and other harm, PHAC said in a statement Thursday.

While the agency points out that substance abuse harms affect many people “from all walks of life” in the country, some groups are more affected by the crisis than others.

“A new brief report released by PHAC suggests that in 2016 and 2017, homeless people were overrepresented in substance use-related deaths,” the statement said.

“While the homeless make up a small percentage of those who have died of an overdose, those who use substances face many compounding stigmas, related to their housing status, substance use and often other stigmas. other factors such as ethnicity and mental health status, which create barriers to accessing health and social services and supports, putting them at higher risk for harms related to substance use.

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The latest modeling projections on the opioid overdose epidemic from PHAC suggest that trends remain high as the country has seen a significant increase in deaths related to opioids and other substances since 2016.

The average number of opioid-related deaths per day was eight in 2016 and that number has more than doubled to an all-time high of 21 per day in 2021. In 2021, 7,560 people died from opioid-related deaths. opioids that year.

Across all modeling scenarios, the agency says the projections underscore the critical importance of new measures to address this crisis. But in addition to providing access to treatment and harm reduction measures, PHAC suggests that “we need to look at the root causes and broader conditions to prevent substance-related harm in the first place”.

“Building community and individual resilience by ensuring adequate and affordable housing for all, facilitating social connections in communities, and supporting the positive development of children and youth are examples of important foundations for this essential work, and those that require strong leadership from various disciplines and sectors. ”

PHAC adds that a large majority of opioid-related deaths continue to be accidental, and more than half also involve the use of a stimulant such as cocaine and methamphetamine, “highlighting the polysubstance nature of the crisis of overdose”.

Canadians are encouraged to learn the signs of an overdose, carry naloxone with them, and recognize the stigmatizing language and attitudes associated with substance use.