An Investigation of Opioid Use and Poisoning in Hamilton and at McMaster University
For the past two decades, Canada has been experiencing an opioid epidemic. During this period, rates of opioid misuse have risen, resulting in rapidly increasing rates of opioid-related poisoning and death. The opioid epidemic continues to persist in Ontario, including Hamilton. In Ontario, the use of nonmedical prescription opioids among the general adult population started to decline in 2010, but began to rise significantly in 2015. In Hamilton, the prevalence of opioid related deaths has been above the provincial average since 2005, and last year it more than doubled the provincial average. Many universities in Ontario have implemented strategies to address the opioid epidemic. These include distributing posters on opioid awareness and training campus police and emergency teams to administer naloxone, a life-saving medication used to reverse opioid poisoning. In contrast, McMaster University has not yet made significant attempts to address the opioid epidemic. This report describes the need for collecting drug use data from McMaster students by evaluating factors that contribute to substance use among students. Accordingly, I outline a plan for collecting these data on campus through a university-wide survey with the intention of establishing a permanent drug use database to provide a system for campus services (e.g., the Student Wellness Centre) to collect these data in the future. I also propose an opioid awareness and naloxone training workshop for McMaster students. Ultimately, this project aims to determine ways to increase awareness of opioid use and improve services on campus that address opioid use.