Insights (Essays)

Insights (Essays) July 2014
Opioid-related deaths in Ontario jumped by a whopping 242 per cent over two decades, according to a study by ICES and St. Mike's.

Opioid deaths soaring, study finds

Theresa Boyle

The rate of opioid-related deaths has skyrocketed in Ontario, jumping 242 per cent in 20 years, new research shows.

The increase has been most pronounced for young adults, researchers from the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences and St. Michael’s Hospital found. One of every eight deaths for Ontarians aged 25 to 34 was related to opioid use in 2010, up from one in 25 in 1991.

“It was quite surprising,” lead author Tara Gomes said of the findings. “We hadn’t quite realized the extent to which this was such a major concern in the young adult population.”

Opioids include strong painkillers such as morphine, codeine and oxycodone.

Researchers analyzed death records from Ontario’s coroner’s office. Their study, published Monday in Addiction, found that there were 41.6 opioid-related deaths per million people in 2010, or 550 deaths annually, up from 12.2 deaths per million in 1991, or 127 deaths annually.

The vast majority of the deaths were accidental, but some were suicides, said Gomes, an ICES scientist and a principal investigator of the Ontario Drug Policy Research Network.

During the two decades studied, the prescription rate of opioids increased as did their dosages.

As well, availability increased. The highly addictive painkiller OxyContin was added to the provincial drug formulary in 2000, meaning its costs became publicly covered for seniors and those on social assistance. 

Read the full story here: https://www.thestar.com/life/health_wellness/2014/07/07/opioid_deaths_soaring_study_finds.html

About the Author(s)

Theresa Boyle is the Health Reporter at References

TheStar.com, July 8, 2014: http://www.thestar.com/life/health_wellness/2014/07/07/opioid_deaths_soaring_study_finds.html

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