Brentford has the second highest rate of hospitalization for opioid poisoning in Canada, according to researchers from the Canadian Institute of Health Information.
Local officials do not dispute the results of the institute's report, but say it is based on 2017 data, which largely precedes the impact of the opioid reduction strategy, saying much progress has been made to reduce the number of deaths, visits to the emergency room and hospitalizations due to poisoning Opioids in the past year.
Fentanyl – a very powerful opioid and addictive – gets the most blame for the spike overdose. Fentanyl is usually mixed into opioids sold on the street, meaning users do not know the power of the drugs they take.
"I think we should remember that when we, as a community, saw a fentanyl creeping into our community, we received a number of initiatives," said Dr. Malcolm Locke, Brent County Medical Officer, on Wednesday after the publication of the national report.
"As a result of these efforts, our statistics – the number of deaths, visits to the emergency room and hospitalizations – are falling, and we have made great progress, and we hope to see even greater improvement as we move forward."
In the city's metropolitan area, which includes Brentford, Brent County and some of the six nations, there were 41.2 hospitalizations per 100,000 people.
Only Kelowna, B.C, with 52.8, had a higher rate.
The September 2017 report from the Institute said Brentford, Brant County and some of the six nations were at the top of the district list for visits to the emergency room due to opioid poisoning.
Community efforts to combat the opioid crisis began in 2017 with a campaign by Fentanyl Can Kill, led by Brentford Police Chief Nelson Nelson. This was followed in November 2017 with the launch of a drug damage reduction strategy across the community.
The strategy includes several components, including education, treatment programs and other harm reduction initiatives.
Although all the elements of the drug strategy are important, Locke said he believes that the increased availability of free naloxone kits is a major factor in reducing hospital visits and death from opioid overdose. Naloxone is a drug that can be used to reverse the effects of an overdose of opioids.
"Making naloxone more available made a huge difference," Lock said, noting the first responders of the community are equipped with all naloxone kits. The kits are also available in the community centers of St. Leonard's community and local pharmacies.
"For me, this is one of the biggest factors."
Brad Stark, CEO of St. Leonard, pointed to the opening of rapid access to clinics in the city center as an important step in the fight against the opioid crisis.
"It was launched in late September and is getting people with problems using complex materials, including those who use opiates that have not been supported before," Stark said.
The clinic provides easier access for patients seeking treatment for any substance use disorder or addiction. Patients do not need a meeting and are seen on a walking basis.
The clinic, located at 347 Colburn Street, near the Grand River Community Health Center, includes a special addiction to the doctor, addictions counselor, case manager, mental health worker and addiction counselor of mental health professionals.
Several organizations, including St. Leonard's, Brant's Community Health System, the Brant Mental Health Association of Canada, the Ludmend and Norfolk, and the Aboriginal Health Center are part of the clinic.
The drug strategy also includes the development of a drug education program designed by the youth, which will be launched in early 2019. The efforts are also renewed for the development of an anti-stigmatic campaign.
"I'm encouraged by the latest statistics showing visits to emergency departments, opioid overdoses and deaths in our community in 2018 compared to a year ago," said Brentford Mayor Kevin Davis.
"I am convinced that we will continue to see greater progress in our joint efforts to combat this crisis, in cooperation with our community authorities and our neighboring authorities."
Meanwhile, a high rate of use of opioid, especially fentanyl, has caught the attention of the local judiciary.
"We are taking a particularly dim look of Pantanil and we are not going to be light hitters when we are sentenced to drug trafficking," Judge Gethin Edward said earlier this week. "Let the public be careful: both as judges and as members of the community, our decisions will reflect the grave nature of the offenses."
Edward recently sentenced a woman in Brent County to seven years in prison for selling drugs.
He said that the trial is intended to warn the community about how the judicial system will punish drug dealers.
Brentford Exposing 2018 ©