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Opioid Steering Committee releases action plan

August 25, 2022   ·   0 Comments

The Simcoe Muskoka Opioid Strategy Steering Committee (SMOS) has released a final report reflecting the results of a multi-year, region-wide action plan aimed at addressing the opioid crisis impacting local communities.

The SMOS is a partnership of agencies, organizations, and individuals working together to address opioid-related problems in communities.

This report provides a review of the goals and actions completed as part of the multi-year plan that was initiated in2018.

The plan lists five actions, including prevention, treatment/clinical practice, harm reduction, enforcement, and emergency management, as well as data and evaluation and lived experience.

The report also includes a scorecard and dashboard that demonstrates progress made over the course of implementing the plan.

“Although all activities from the SMOS Action Plan were completed, there is still significant progress to be made in furthering the work on the initial goals and activities and on new priority areas that have emerged since the development of the plan in 2018,” said Mia Brown, SMOS Steering Committee Chair and Manager of SMDHU’s Substance Use and Injury Prevention program. “The issues associated with substance use are complex and, unfortunately, we have not seen a reduction in the rate of opioid-related harms.”

In 2020 and 2021, Simcoe Muskoka experienced a significant rise in opioid poisoning emergency department visits and death due to an increasingly toxic and unregulated drug supply.

During 2021, there were 169 confirmed and probable opioid related deaths in Simcoe Muskoka. That was 25 per cent higher than in 2020 and nearly double the average of the period from 2017 to 2019.

The SMOS steering committee is committed to working with community partners to develop a refreshed drug strategy for 2023 and beyond.

Priorities for consideration include, broadening the scope of the strategy to include all illicit substances, exploring the possibility of starting safer opioid supply programs, and increased community access to Opioid Agonist Treatment.

Priorities also include, continuing advocacy to decriminalize personal use and possession of illicit substances, and to pursue evidence-based initiatives for substance use prevention and mental health promotion.

By Brian Lockhart

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