New strategy aims to address substance use

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submitted by EOHU

Local community partners and people with lived substance use experience have come together to address issues related to substance use in Cornwall, Akwesasne, and Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry (SDG). Approximately 20 agencies from across the health, social services, law enforcement and education sectors have committed to being a part of the regional Substance Use Health Strategy (SUHS).

One initial area of concern for the strategy is the significant increase in various indicators related to opioid poisonings (i.e., overdoses). Cornwall Community Hospital reported 71 emergency department visits for opioid poisoning during the 2020-2021 fiscal year, and 132 during the 2021-2022 fiscal year, an 86% increase between the reporting periods. Additionally, Cornwall SDG Paramedic Services responded to 143 opioid poisoning related calls in 2022, representing a 170% increase from the 53 opioid poisoning related calls in 2020. In the greater Eastern Ontario Health Unit region, there were 40 suspected drug-related deaths in 2022.

As a result, the partners involved have recognized the need to take action using a collaborative approach. The purpose of the SUHS is to address the needs of those experiencing negative repercussions in relation to substance use through four major pillars: prevention, harm reduction, treatment, and community safety, all while striving to reduce the stigma that can be associated with substance use.

One of the first actions in developing the strategy will be to conduct community consultations and gather input from those with living or lived substance use experience, as well as their friends, family, and caregivers. The input from these consultations will be an integral piece of the strategy development.

It will assist in taking stock of services, programs, and supports available, while also identifying where gaps may exist. The results will be reported back to community partners as well as members of the public.

The survey is available online at the following link until July 31, 2023, and is open to all individuals with living or lived substance use experience, their family, friends, and caregivers:

https://chkmkt.com/SUHS-SSUS. More information regarding the SUHS and the survey is available at https://eohu.ca/en/my-health/substance-use-health-strategy.

For further information or questions about the survey, please contact the Eastern Ontario Health Unit at 1-800-267-7120.

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