Accidental drug and alcohol-related deaths nearly doubled in Ontario during pandemic

From Unity Health Toronto

A new report from The Ontario Drug Policy Research Network and Public Health Ontario shows the number of accidental drug and alcohol toxicity-related deaths grew to alarmingly high levels in Ontario during the COVID-19 pandemic.  

There were almost 9,000 accidental deaths from substance-related toxicities in the province from 2018-2021 – reaching an unprecedented rate that was five times higher than the number of deaths due to motor vehicle collisions in Ontario. 

The report found that the annual number of substance toxicity deaths nearly doubled in Ontario during this time, reaching nearly 3,000 deaths in 2021, with an average of eight deaths occurring every day that year. 

“This report shows the extent to which substance-related harms have worsened during the pandemic,” says senior author Dr. Tara Gomes, a scientist at the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute of St. Michael’s Hospital and ICES, and a principal investigator of the ODPRN.

“During the pandemic, for the first time, the number of deaths involving multiple substances surpassed deaths from one substance alone, highlighting the increasing complexity of this issue and the types of responses required to prevent these avoidable harms.” 

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