Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Public Health

Missing the Trends in the Fentanyl Overdose Crisis: The Need for Immediate Intervention in Small and Rural Communities

Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Public Health

Missing the Trends in the Fentanyl Overdose Crisis: The Need for Immediate Intervention in Small and Rural Communities

Article excerpt

Dear Editor:

The province of British Columbia (BC), Canada, has been one of the first and most severely impacted jurisdictions by fatal fentanyl overdose events.1 Because a majority of publicized overdose fatalities occur in large urban municipalities such as Vancouver, the magnitude of cases occurring in small or rural areas is often overshadowed.2 For example, the health services delivery areas in BC that include small towns and rural communities, such as Fraser East, Fraser North, Central, and Northern Vancouver Island, have had fatal overdose cases that closely match in frequency with their urban counterparts of Vancouver Coastal and South Fraser.2 After taking into account the variances in population density, similar overdose trends are also reflected in the rural communities across North America, even prior to fentanyl's introduction into illegal markets.3

WAYS FORWARD

The rising mortality rate associated with the growing fentanyl overdose epidemic in small towns and rural jurisdictions may be attributed to numerous local factors, some of which are highlighted below. The rural areas' geographic isolation and their limited access to health centres have revealed that people who use drugs face a greater risk of morbidity and mortality.4 For example, in 2016, more than 60% of overdose cases in BC took place in a private dwelling. …

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