The Regional Municipality of Durham


Health Department and local agencies participate in Opioid Forum to discuss current concerns in Durham Region

Whitby, Ontario, October 30, 2017 - Opioid misuse and overdose are both important public health issues not only in Durham Region, but also across Ontario and nation-wide. Recent data compiled by Durham Region Health Department shows an increase in hospitalizations and emergency department visits due to opioid misuse and deaths due to drug toxicity.

What are Opioids?

Opioids are a family of drugs that are used to relieve pain. Opioids can also produce a sense of euphoria (a high), which may lead people to use them improperly. There are prescription opioids such as codeine, fentanyl, morphine and methadone, and illegally produced opioids like “bootleg” fentanyl.

What is an overdose?

An overdose can happen when someone uses opioids improperly or in the wrong dosage. Due to the impact opioids have on the portion of the brain that controls breathing, opioid use in higher dosages may lead to difficulty breathing, overdose and death. All opioids (prescription and non-prescription) have a risk of overdose.

What is Naloxone?

If you or someone you know is using opioids legally or illegally, it's important to have a Naloxone kit. Naloxone or Narcan® is a drug which can be used to reverse the effects of an overdose. More information on Naloxone is available at

What is the situation in Durham Region?

In the past five years, the number of cases of opioid-related emergency department visits for Durham Region residents increased from 169 in 2011 to 274 in 2016, while the number of cases of opioid-related hospitalizations increased from 79 in 2011 to 82 in 2016. In 2016, Durham Region males 25 to 44-years old had the highest rate of opioid-related emergency department visits. During the same time period, females were more likely to be hospitalized, with females 65 and older having the highest rate of opioid-related hospitalizations. The number of opioid-related deaths in Durham Region increased from 19 in 2011 to 41 in 2016. In 2016, fentanyl was present in almost 50 per cent of opioid-related deaths in Durham Region. (Source: Public Health Ontario)

What is the goal of public health in addressing the opioid situation?

The goal of public health is to reduce the frequency, severity and impact of preventable injury and substance misuse through the use of prevention strategies and harm reduction initiatives. Through the partnership with and involvement of other local agencies, we will work towards a better understanding of this issue and develop a Durham Region approach for a plan to address the specific concerns of our community.

For more information on opioid misuse or other substances misuse facts, visit Additional information on opioids is also available by visiting the Opioids page at

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Media inquiries:

Regional Municipality of Durham:
Glendene Collins - Health Department, 905-668-7711 ext. 2999,

If you require information in an accessible format, please contact 1-800-841-2729 ext. 3094

For more information, please contact Health Department.