It’s really easy to ignore data or information that we don’t want to hear. In this case, we cannot afford to ignore the impact that opioids are having in our rural communities across Canada.
There is new data out today for the Government of Canada revealing that there was almost 4,000 opioid-related deaths in 2017. According to a story in the Globe and Mail, that is a 34% increase over 2016.
Canada is actually the world’s second largest per capita consumer of opioids, next to the U.S.
It’s important to realize that this is not an urban-only issue confined to the big cities of Vancouver, Toronto, and Montreal.
According to the American Farm Bureau in a study conducted in 2017, 74% of farmers or farmer workers in the U.S. say they have been directly impacted by opioid use.
We all know, though, that with smaller rural communities there are challenges to dealing with health issues, not just this one. The lack of proximity to treatment facilities and the small town factor play a role. Many people stay hidden because the health professional may be a fellow parent on the baseball team, for example.
The American Farm Bureau also noted that opioid access through prescriptions is actually higher in rural communities. In my opinion this could also be the small town factor because the doctor and patient are friendly. A positive piece of data from the Canadian government’s release today is that the daily doses of opioids prescribed in Canada fell 10% in 2017 in comparison to 2016.
I believe that this is a very serious threat to our communities and we cannot afford to believe we are sheltered from the impact of opioids because we live in rural communities. The numbers say otherwise.