The Canadian Opioid Crisis: Fatalities Among Older Adults

The Canadian opioid crisis among older adults demands attention and strategic intervention to combat rising substance-related fatalities.

The Canadian Opioid Crisis: An Examination of Accidental Substance-Related Toxicity Deaths among Older Adults

As Canada grapples with the alarming rise in opioid-related fatalities, a fresh focus on older adults is emerging. A comprehensive study conducted by the public health sector in Canada presents stark findings on accidental substance-related acute toxicity deaths among this demographic. This report provides valuable insights into the opioid crisis that are pivotal to formulating effective strategies for abatement.

The Burgeoning Opioid Crisis In Canada

The opioid crisis is a national tragedy that has been progressively intensifying in Canada. The demand for opioids for both, medical and non-medical purposes, has escalated with devastating consequences which are evident in the increased number of opioid-related fatalities.

Impact on Older Adults

The impact of the opioid crisis on older adults is often overlooked. A national chart review showed a significant percentage of accidental substance-related acute toxicity deaths in 2016 and 2017 were individuals aged 50 years and older. This indicates that older adults too, are profoundly affected by the opioid crisis, necessitating targeted initiatives for this demographic.

Key Points Extracted From The Study

According to the examine report, here are some key points to note:

  • Substance use and its associated harms are not only a concern among youth and young adults; older adults are also involved.
  • Of the total deaths recorded due to substance-related acute toxicity, 53% were among individuals aged 50 years and older.
  • 81% of these individuals were noted to have had at least one chronic disease, and 76% had a concurrent mental health diagnosis.
  • 68% of these individuals were noted to be opioid users, where hydromorphone was the most commonly identified substance among opioid users.

Notably, these figures represent only the verified instances of fatalities. The actual magnitude of the opioid crisis could be much higher, considering instances that go unreported or undetected.

Combatting The Crisis

In light of these worrying trends, several measures have been adopted to combat the opioid crisis in Canada. One such approach is the Canadian opioid abatement class action, a legal recourse that allows municipalities and other parties to claim damages from opioid manufacturers for their alleged role in the crisis.

The widespread distribution of naloxone, a medication that can rapidly reverse an opioid overdose, is another critical strategy designed to reduce opioid-related fatalities. Some provinces have also implemented prescription monitoring programs to curb the proliferation of prescription opioids.

The Role of Community And Civic Leaders

Community and civic leaders have a critical role to play in mitigating the impact of the opioid crisis. Addressing issues such as homelessness and crime, which are often linked to substance use and abuse, can contribute to a comprehensive solution to the opioid crisis. Additionally, encouraging awareness, fostering accessible treatment options and advocating for policy changes can make a significant difference.


In conclusion, the opioid crisis is a public health issue of considerable concern, infiltrating all socio-economic and age groups, including older adults. As a society, it is imperative to reassess strategies holistically, where the focus is not exclusively on younger populations but extended to older adults as well. Through united efforts including the fostering of policy changes, improving access to treatment facilities and strengthening measures such as the Canadian opioid abatement class action, it is possible to ameliorate the opioid crisis in Canada, restoring health, safety, and prosperity to our communities.

In essence, the true force against the opioid crisis does not lie exclusively within the realm of healthcare professionals or law enforcement agencies; it is in the collective will and coordinated efforts of the community, exerted through informed leaders, aware citizens, and comprehensive, effective policies and measures.


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