Opioid overdoses on the rise

There have been at least four suspected opioid overdoses in Ontario this week. Three people in the Durham Region, one person in Sarnia and drugs are believed to be involved in a man’s death in Hamilton. And although it’s not known if that man’s death is opioid related at this point, we do know there’s been an increase in opoid related 9-1-1 calls in this city

Hamilton EMS has received more than 200 calls for opioid overdoses so far this year and they don’t see a slow down anytime soon.

Last month there were 42 overdoses – the highest monthly total all year.

James Murphy now has a new routine. He has been checking into the John Street Clinic twice a week for the past 4 months in hopes of kicking his opioid addiction.

“Everyday, everyday I struggle, but you got to stay strong and think of the consequences. What happens if I relapse?”

Murphy has been taking opiods since he was 15. He’s been in and out of jail and even lost a family member to drug abuse. Now 30, and a father of two, he decided what was more important.

“Lost my job. I was about to lose my girl, my kids, you know it’s time to smarten up. I am 30 years old it is time to wake up and grow up.”

His drug of choice was fentanyl. The drug comes in many forms like patches, sprays and pills and it is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine.

It is also the number one killer of opioid deaths in Niagara this year. Out of the 15 opioid deaths this year in Niagara – ten of them involved fentanyl.

It is not clear how many people have died this year from fentanyl overdoses in Hamilton, but the number of people using it has gone up.

“Maybe one in every two patients I am now seeing, if not more, have fentanyl in their urine samples now.”

Dr. Jocelin McLeod treats about 100 patients a day at the John Street Clinic.

“My patients tell me they ship it in the mail from China, so I think it is more accessible.”

This clinic is doing their part in reducing the number of overdoses, but doctors there say they won’t be surprised if those numbers continue to climb.

Twenty-four people died from an opioid overdose last year.


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