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Though the opioid crisis has been in the news almost every day over the past several months, fentanyl abuse can be traced back to 2005, and began to gain regular attention as far back as 2012. While numbers around opioid poisonings and hospitalizations continue to increase, it’s important to reflect on the many great initiatives that have been implemented throughout all forms of government over the past year to impact the crisis. But as always, there’s still room for improvement.

The below timeline highlights both the speed in which the crisis has grown, as well as any measures that still need to be taken.

A brief timeline of the opioid crisis:

2006 - 2015: Fentanyl surpasses Oxycodone as the opioid most commonly involved in opioid-related deaths

  • In Ontario, fentanyl involvement in opioid-related deaths increased 548% between 2006 and 2015, and in 2014, fentanyl surpassed oxycodone to become the opioid most commonly involved in these deaths.

2015 - 2016: More than 9.1 million opioid prescriptions written in Ontario alone.

  • With just over nine million prescriptions written during this time, Ontario experienced a five per cent increase from three years earlier.

2016, July: Health Canada announces interim order for NARCAN™ (naloxone hydrochloride) Nasal Spray.

  • In an effort to quell the increasing number of opioid poisonings across the country, then-Federal Health Minister Jane Philpott announced the immediate importation, sale and distribution of NARCAN™ Nasal Spray.

2017, May: The Federal Government implements the Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act

  • To protect the health and safety of its citizens, the Federal Government enacted the Good Samaritan Law to encourage Canadians to save a life during an overdose situation.

2017, August: Province announces plan to invest $222 million over three years on opioid crisis.

  • Ontario Heath Minister Eric Hoskins announces the province’s plan to pledge an additional
    $222 million over three years to improve access to harm reduction services and addiction treatment amid the opioid crisis in the province.

2017, October: Ontario creates the Opioid Emergency Task Force.

  • Ontario implements an emergency task force consisting of front-line workers and healthcare experts to strengthen the province's coordinated response to the opioid crisis.

With 2016’s death count at over 2,800 across the country, with expectations to surpass 3,000 in 2017, it’s crucial that we continue to find ways in which we can combat the crisis and curtail the growing number of preventable deaths. Naloxone plays a key role in addressing this crisis, along with other crucial resources that need to be made widely available to first responders and the public.

For more information, visit narcannasalspray.ca.