Public health notes importance of International Overdose Awareness Day

GUELPH – Drug overdoses were a problem before the COVID-19 pandemic, but the problem has only become worse, says the associate medical officer of health for Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health (WDGPH).

“While much of our attention was focused on fighting this global virus, the most vulnerable in our society dealt with isolation, lack of awareness and reallocation of resources that exacerbated the ongoing challenge of supporting those caught in an epidemic of drug overdoses,” stated Dr. Matthew Tenenbaum in a press release issued on Aug. 31, International Overdose Awareness Day.

“Overdoses have impacted all sectors of our community and that is why working to keep an awareness on this societal challenge is timely and worthwhile.”

Tenenbaum says public health works with partners in the area to send out health alerts when there has been an increase in overdoses that may be due to tainted drugs on the street.

“We must continue to bring resources, data and understanding to bear on this and other complex issues in ways that centre those affected to ensure an equitable and healthier future,” he stated.

“[WDGPH] will continue to partner with the many community agencies who are involved directly with the people and places experiencing overdose emergencies.”

Tenenbaum said even while people turn their attention to the fall season and the return to school for students, they must not forget the threat of drug abuse and deaths due to overdoses and tainted drugs.

“One focus we must maintain is our awareness of the impact of overdoses on the lives of everyone in every sector of society,” he said.