(Photo courtesy of © Can Stock Photo / Novic)

New Statistics Illustrate Need For Local Withdrawal Management Centre

Lambton Public Health has requested further analysis of a Health Quality Ontario report released Wednesday, which stated that the Erie St. Clair Local Health Integration Network had the highest number of people filling opioid prescriptions compared to anywhere else in the province.

According to the report, one in five people filled an opioid prescription in Lambton, Chatham-Kent and Essex counties in 2015-2016. The average Ontario rate is one in seven.

Epidemiologist Crystal Palleschi says they’re not surprised.

“No, because we’ve previously analyzed other data sources, including emergency department visits, hospitalizations and deaths due to opioid use and the Health Quality Ontario report really confirmed what we found, which is that opioid use is an issue of concern in Lambton,” says Palleschi.

She says they’re hoping to have the numbers broken down by individual municipality.

“We do not have comparable prescription data for Lambton County,” says Palleschi. “The Health Canada Quality Ontario report only provided data by LHIN. So, we have made a request for further analysis to be completed and provided to public health units.”

Palleschi says the largest group of those who filled an opioid prescription were among the elderly.

“29% of those in the Erie St. Clair LHIN over the age of 65 had filled a prescription for an opioid in 2015-2016,” says Palleschi.

She says a number of initiatives are underway at the provincial and national level to better understand and address the issue.

Palleschi says the results really emphasize the continued need to monitor prescriptions, to enhance addiction and withdrawal management services, and to work toward system level improvements for mental health and addictions.