Like many communities across Canada, Oxford County is experiencing an opioid crisis. The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care has made funding available to boards of health across Ontario to improve local opioid response capacity and initiatives. As a result, Oxford County initiated the development of a community drug and alcohol strategy. Although the impetus for the initiative was generated in response to the current opioid epidemic, the reality in many communities is that other substances, including alcohol, cannabis and illicit drugs, continue to present significant harms and challenges.
A recent report by Southwestern Public Health (formerly known as Oxford County Public Health and Emergency Services) documents the increase in opioid-related emergency department visits and poisonings over the past decade.
1. While opioid-related concerns continue to rise, alcohol represents the highest presenting problem substance within the community (28.5%), followed by both cannabis (13.3%) and prescription opioid use (13.3%).
2. Harms associated with illicit substances, particularly cocaine and methamphetamines, have also been reported to be on the rise from many healthcare and public health professionals who took part in the community consultations held during the development of this Strategy.
Accordingly, the Oxford County Community Alcohol and Drug Strategy contains an action plan with key recommendations as well as an implementation plan, targeting a broad range of licit and illicit substances. The Strategy focuses on health equity and includes both population-level and targeted approaches to address problematic substance use within Oxford County.
A community working together to help prevent and reduce problematic substance use and problematic substance-use related harms within the community.
To provide an action plan highlighting priority areas and clear pathways to achieving all community-based recommended actions.