The rise in harms associated with opioids is an issue of increasing public health importance in Canada.
Measures that provide a better understanding of the harms associated with opioid use, such as numbers of deaths, hospitalizations and emergency department (ED) visits, are a high priority. These indicators of harm are not systematically reported at a pan-Canadian level and are highly fragmented. There is a need for better measures that offer the ability to compare trends over time, both within a jurisdiction and at the pan-Canadian level, over time. CCSA and the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) have released a joint report, Hospitalizations and Emergency Department Visits due to Opioid Poisoning in Canada. This report begins to address the information gap by presenting data on pan-Canadian hospitalizations and ED visits due to opioids.
Key findings of the report:
Opioid poisonings result in more than 13 hospitalizations a day in Canada.
The rate of hospitalizations due to opioid poisoning in Canada increased more than 30% between 2007-2008 and 2014-2015.
Between 2007-2008 and 2014-2015, hospitalization rates increased across all age groups, although the greatest change occurred among youth ages 15 to 24, where the rate increased by 62%. The majority of these poisonings were due to intentional self-inflicted harm.
Older adults (65+ years) consistently had the highest rate of opioid poisonings requiring hospitalization: 20 per 100,000 people. The majority of these poisonings were considered accidental.
Moving forward, this data could be used to provide better information to Canadians about the risks associated with opioids, to support evidence-informed initiatives aimed at reducing opioid-related harms and to fuel future collaborations between organizations at local, provincial/territorial and pan-Canadian levels in an effort to mitigate harms due to opioids.
Read the report to learn more about the harms of opioids in Canada.