Report released on opioid use and impacts in Thunder Bay District

March 26, 2018 - A new report indicates that the rates of opioid-related harms measured by healthcare system use are higher in Thunder Bay District than the rest of Ontario. The Opioid Use and Impacts in Thunder Bay District report released today by the Thunder Bay Drug Strategy and the Thunder Bay District Health Unit (TBDHU) is the first collaborative data compilation effort to provide information about local trends in opioid-related harms. The report, presented at the Northwest Region Opioid Strategy Event held at the Da Vinci Centre, provides a perspective on how the opioid issue in our District has changed and the factors that may be contributing to its growth. 

The report shows that in 2016, 53 emergency department visits for opioid toxicity per 100,000 people were reported in the Thunder Bay District, compared to 32 per 100,000 reported in Ontario; and that methadone is the most commonly detected opioid at death due to opioid overdose. In Ontario, fentanyl is the most commonly detected opioid at death due to opioid overdose.

“People use opioids, prescribed and not prescribed, for many different reasons including treatment of pain, coping, or prevention of withdrawal symptoms,” says Dr. Emily Groot, associate medical officer of health at the Thunder Bay District Health Unit. “This report considers some of the key issues related to opioid use and related harms for people living in our District. It also highlights some of the information we are missing to understand the full burden that opioids place on our community. These can help us develop effective local strategies to mitigate this health issue.”

The report also provides a snapshot of opioid-related services available in the Thunder Bay District – including opioid agonist therapy, naloxone distribution for overdose prevention, and opioid case management – and the service gaps.  

“Our community has recognized the challenges posed by opioids, and many organizations are working together to address this issue,” says Cynthia Olsen, coordinator of the Thunder Bay Drug Strategy. “Interventions that the community is working on include the recently-launched Rapid Access to Addiction Medicine Clinic, Supervised consumption services, and a regional community of practice on trauma-informed systems of care.”

The report was prepared by the Situational Assessment Working Group of the Opioid Surveillance and Response Task Force which is a subcommittee of the Thunder Bay Drug Strategy. 

To view the complete report visit,


Cynthia Olsen, Coordinator – Thunder Bay Drug Strategy, (807) 631-7451

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Alcohol & Other Drugs