Fentanyl Detox & Treatment in Ontario
The Current State of the Fentanyl Crisis in Ontario
The province of Ontario has had numerous health epidemics connected to opioids such as during the 1990s with OxyContin, and now currently fentanyl. Black market forms of fentanyl or illegally produced fentanyl is behind nearly 80 percent of the fentanyl-related deaths in Ontario in 2017. Simply put, this means that most addicts are using drugs that have been contaminated with fentanyl, or designed to look like a certain opioid, but is primarily made up of fentanyl. The majority of the addicts who died from fentanyl or an opioid-related cause in Ontario, had been using drugs on average for five years. Long-term drug addicts were beginning to die because of using drugs that were laced with fentanyl. In 2017, there were over 1200 deaths in Ontario, and in the previous year, there were over 800 deaths, and this was a significant jump from one year to the next. Statistically within Canada, over 70 percent of the accidental opioid-related deaths do involve prescription or illicit fentanyl. In 2017, over 65 percent of the accidental opioid related deaths in Ontario were directly linked to fentanyl. When comparing the number to 2016, it jumped over 20 percent, and over 70 percent of these deaths in 2017 were caused by non-pharmaceutical fentanyl. Non-pharmaceutical fentanyl can be best described as fentanyl that is not produced for medical purposes, but rather made in labs; typically, China, and shipped into Canada. Much of the problem began with Ontario pharmacists breaking the law and illegally selling fentanyl patches. Between the years of 2013 and 2017, over 200 different pharmacists were responsible for dispersing large amounts of opioids onto the street. Fentanyl is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine, and is only meant for severe chronic pain cases, but like any other opioid, the drug can cause a dependency and addiction.
What was being done to combat the fentanyl problem?
In early 2013, a new piece of legislation was proposed in Nipissing County to launch a fentanyl patch-for-patch return program. This would require patients who are prescribed fentanyl to return used patches before receiving a new fentanyl patch. Eventually, the program later expanded into other counties throughout Ontario, and many of the counties saw a reduction in fentanyl patches being dispensed; however, it did not stop or lessen the amount of emergency-room visits related to fentanyl and other similar opioids, and police-related incidents involving fentanyl did not go down. Despite the types of opioids that someone may be using, there is only one solution for someone who is abusing these types of drugs. This is drug treatment, and across the province of Ontario are hundreds of drug rehabilitation options. Fentanyl is a very dangerous drug, and addicts who are exposed to this type of drug are often long-term drug users and will need lengthy and extensive drug treatment. The first step will be a drug detox program where an addict will go through a medical withdrawal, to alleviate withdrawal pains, and ensure they can safely stop taking the opioids they are abusing. Fentanyl is 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine, and will also require a properly supervised medical detox. Medical detox is only the first step, but inpatient drug treatment is the more successful choice for an opioid addiction. This can either be long-term or short-term care centers in Ontario, but it should be an inpatient center.
The Fentanyl Problem is not Going Away in Ontario
In 2017, the province of Ontario saw a spike in opioid-related deaths with over 1000 deaths, which was a significant jump from 2016. The emergency-room department visits because of opioid related overdose was over 7500, and all this was happening just as the province was releasing Naloxone nasal spray in with the existing Naloxone kits. The provincial government of Ontario has committed to spending billions of dollars to combat the problem, but opioid-related deaths and that involving fentanyl is not going away any time soon. Once someone becomes addicted to or even dependent on drugs, it is difficult to stop, unless the proper treatment is gotten. Drugs are addicting; these substances provide an escape for the user, and it feels good. Despite fentanyl being a dangerous opioid, people still abuse it because it makes them feel good. Individuals who are prescribed fentanyl take it to manage pain, but once the pain is gone; they continue to take it because they are dependent on it and in fear of living without it. Throughout the province of Ontario are hundreds of different drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs that are fully equipped to treat addicts and provide support for family members. Addiction to opioids, and knowing of someone who overdosed on fentanyl is an too common problem in Ontario. Prevention and education are key, but also being able to access the proper support services to help and treatment programs.