FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 19, 2019: Starting today, Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health is asking people who use illicit drugs and live in Wellington County, Dufferin County or the City of Guelph to complete an anonymous online survey at www.wdgpublichealth.ca/druguse-survey.
Public Health is looking for input from those who are older than 16 and use drugs other than cannabis or alcohol to fill out the survey and help inform local strategies, identify gaps and provide a better understanding of substance use in the community.
“Your neighbour, friend or family member may be using drugs alone and in secret. They may not have accessed any community services and have no one to help them if they overdose.” Says Dr. Nicola Mercer, Medical Officer of Health and CEO. “Public Health has seen an increase in individuals getting naloxone kits or exchanging needles. But what about the user who feels too ashamed to even ask for that amount of help? We want to reach anyone using drugs, even the hidden user, with services such as new needles and a naloxone kit and the message that they should never use alone. The goal is to keep people who use drugs as safe as possible until they are ready to ask for help.”
Emergency department visits due to opioids have steadily increased in local hospitals over the past five years. In Ontario, the rate of opioid-related visits rose dramatically in 2015, 2016 and 2017. The City of Guelph and Wellington County show a very similar spike in ED visits over the same period. Public Health information shows that the rate of opioid-related emergency department visits in the City of Guelph appear slightly higher than for the province. Guelph’s Overdose Prevention Site opened in May 2018 and had 1,363 visits in the first four months where fourteen opioid overdoses were reversed.
Survey results will be made public at a fall Board of Health meeting. It will build on an earlier community needs assessment which focused on people who use drugs but reached out to local services for harm reduction supplies and services. Find out more about harm reduction at www.wdgpublichealth.ca/harmreduction
Residents who participate in the 15 to 25 minute anonymous survey will have a chance to win one of three $50 gift cards. The survey will be open until April 30.
Chuck Ferguson, Manager of Communications
1-800-265-7293 ext. 4374