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Opioid crisis worsens in Simcoe Muskoka amid COVID-19 pandemic, health unit says

The health unit also says organizations that are in partnership with the Simcoe Muskoka Opioid Strategy (SMOS) have identified an increase in overdoses among clients. File/AP Photo

The opioid crisis in Simcoe County and Muskoka is worsening as the region continues to battle the COVID-19 pandemic, the local health unit says.

Preliminary data shows there were 83 confirmed and probable opioid-related deaths in Simcoe Muskoka for the first eight months of 2020, which was 51 per cent higher than the average of 55 deaths from January to August for the three previous years, according to the health unit.

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The health unit also says organizations that are in partnership with the Simcoe Muskoka Opioid Strategy (SMOS) have identified an increase in overdoses among clients.

“The pandemic may have pushed the opioid crisis out of the spotlight, but the crisis and the burden associated with it has not gone away — in fact, COVID-19 has made a difficult situation even more challenging,” Dr. Lisa Simon, the local health unit’s associate medical officer of health and the SMOS steering committee chair, said in a statement.

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“Opioid use, addiction and overdose is an urgent and complex problem in our region and the work of SMOS continues to be a high priority as we work towards reducing the harms of opioids in our communities.”

Some of the SMOS’s recent work includes efforts to understand and address the negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on those who use substances.

Click to play video: 'Peterborough continues to grapple with opioid overdoses' Peterborough continues to grapple with opioid overdoses
Peterborough continues to grapple with opioid overdoses – Nov 19, 2020

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