August 31 is International Overdose Awareness Day, a global event dedicated to remembering, without stigma, those who have died, and to acknowledging the grief of the family and friends left behind. It’s a time to remember and a time to act.
Tragically, Canadian lives are being taken at an alarming rate by overdose-related deaths. Here in Simcoe Muskoka, the statistics are staggering. In the past two years, Covid has compounded the problem through isolation, increased mental health issues, and the increased pressure of the cost of living.
Opioid addiction and death is not an issue that only affects big cities but smaller communities as well.
According to preliminary information compiled by the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit through the Chief Coroner for Ontario, in the 25 months of available data since the start of the pandemic (March 2020 to March 2022) there have been 323 opioid-related deaths in Simcoe Muskoka. This is more than 75 per cent higher than the 182 opioid-related deaths in the 25 months prior to the start of the pandemic (February 2018 to February 2020).
“There’s no sugarcoating it – Canadian lives are being taken at an alarming rate by apparent overdose-related deaths. Lives are being senselessly taken at the hands of devastating overdoses. Between January 2016 and September 2019, there have been more than 14,700 apparent opioid-related deaths. Flood: The Overdose Epidemic in Canada is a documentary that aims to reduce the stigma around substance use disorder (SUD) and inspire others to take action,” states the United Way of Simcoe Muskoka on its website.
The charitable organization is hosting a free documentary screening of Flood: The Overdose Epidemic in Canada, followed by a panel discussion at the Algonquin Theatre on August 31, 2022 between 7:00 – 9:30 p.m.
Event sponsors include the Town of Huntsville and the Township of Lake of Bays who have each contributed $2,500 toward the event as well as the Kiwanis Club of Huntsville Muskoka and others.
Following the screening of Flood: The Overdose Epidemic in Canada, which tells the human story behind the overdose epidemic, there will be a panel discussion with local experts and people with lived experience.
The panel will comprise:
Adam D’Addario: Filmmaker, Flood: The Overdose Epidemic in Canada
John Paul Graham: Central Region Planner and Manager, OPP
Jeff McWilliam: District of Muskoka Chief of Paramedics
Shari Dubois: Mother and survivor; Shari’s son lost his life to an overdose
Sarah Tilley: Harm Reduction Manager, Gilbert Centre
Michelle Van Lierop: Addictions and Counselling Canadian Mental Health Association, Muskoka-Parry Sound
You can reserve tickets for this free event, here.
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