Stop Overdose Ottawa


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Staying informed on the toxic drug supply can save lives. Sign up to receive our new Stop Overdose Ottawa Alerts. Stop Overdose Ottawa Alerts are issued when Ottawa’s Overdose Prevention and Response Task Force becomes aware of issues related to toxic drugs circulating in the community. Examples include: increased risk of overdose, new drug toxicity risk, and other new or noteworthy drug trends presenting in the local unregulated drug supply.

a honeycomb bulletJune 11, 2024 : Ottawa Public Health in collaboration with its partners launches the Mental Health, Addictions and Substance Use Health Business Support Toolkit. The toolkit is here to support local businesses and their dedicated employees, with a suite of practical resources designed to enhance safety, health, and overall community well-being.

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Sharps kits are available for pick-up at participating locations. Keeping Ottawa neighbourhoods safe is our collective responsibility. In an effort to promote community safety, Ottawa Public Health (OPH), along with numerous City and community partners, has implemented a variety of measures to provide safe options for disposing of drug paraphernalia and addressing items that have been improperly discarded. Learn how to dispose of needles and drug paraphernalia.

a honeycomb bulletSee our new factsheets on nitazenes and medetomidine/dexmedetomidine in the unregulated drug supply.



The Overdose Crisis 

We have seen a significant increase in the harms of fatal and non-fatal overdoses since the start of the pandemic and unfortunately rates have remained elevated. A broad multi-faceted response is needed to help address the overdose crisis. This is a complex issue compounded by interrelated challenges of increased mental health concerns and an increase in the number of residents needing homelessness services in the community. 
These data provide an early signal of changes in suspected overdose-related emergency department (ED) visits and deaths in Ottawa. These early data are based on the chief complaint at triage for ED visits and, for deaths, evidence from the scene/investigation or preliminary autopsy findings. While not all the ED visits and deaths shown here will be proven to be related to an overdose, changes over time will provide useful information about substance related harms. These data are based on all patients seen in Ottawa hospitals and deaths that occurred in Ottawa. Data will be refreshed as it becomes available from the various data sources provided to Ottawa Public Health.

Additional data is available on The Mental Health, Addictions and Substance Use Health Community Dashboard and Open data.
Interpreting the data from Ottawa's Overdose Overview :
  • The number of suspected drug overdose ED visits in the most recent week is higher than the previous week.
  • The number of suspected drug overdose deaths in the most recent week is higher than the previous week. July of 2023 saw the highest number of confirmed opioid overdose related ED visits within the past 3 years. 
  • The number of confirmed opioid-related deaths in the third quarter of 2023 is lower than that seen in the first two quarters of 2023 and is similar to most quarters since 2020. All areas of Ottawa are affected by opioid-related harms, but the largest numbers and rates tend to be in the downtown areas of Ottawa.  
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See Ottawa's Overdose Overview

What's Being Done?

Locally Ottawa Public Health along with a large network of partners including our Community and Social Services Department, community health, social and housing services organizations, those with lived and living experience, hospitals, pharmacies, emergency services (i.e. police, paramedics, fire), mental health, substance use health and addictions service providers, the regional coroner’s office, and many others have been working together on multiple coordinated and interconnected strategies and action plans to promote substance use health and wellbeing, prevent harms related to substance use, and help save lives.  

Learn more about ongoing work being done to address the overdose crisisOttawa's Strategy and resources available


People with mental illnesses and/or addictions are usually homeless. Agree or disagree? 

In fact, while many homeless people have mental health or substance use health issues, not all people with mental illnesses and/or addictions or substance use disorders are homeless. Many people living with mental illness and/or addictions or substance use disorders have jobs, go to school, and have families

People living with an addiction lack willpower. Agree or disagree? 

In fact, addictions and substance use disorders are not a choice, a moral failing or a lack of willpower. There are many complex health and social factors that contribute to the development of addictions and substance use disorders (i.e. genetics, early life experiences, environment and stressful life events.

People living with an addiction don’t want help

In fact, stigma is one of the largest barriers preventing people experiencing challenges with substance use from seeking help or health care. Other barriers include self-stigma, structural stigma, not knowing where to go for help and a lack of supportive social networks.

People living with an addiction will never get better.

In fact, treatment measures for addictions and substance use disorders are effective and generally as successful as those for other chronic medical conditions. Recovery is possible and attainable!

People are more likely to hire someone with a mental health condition compared to someone with a substance use disorder

According to a November 2021 population survey, a greater number of Ottawa residents strongly agreed that:

  • They would hire someone who had a mental health condition versus a substance use disorder

  • They would feel comfortable working with someone with a mental health condition versus a substance use disorder

  • Mental health conditions are like physical conditions and need the right support versus a substance use disorders

  • Mental health conditions can affect anyone versus a substance use disorder

True or false? Stigma is one of the biggest barriers preventing people from seeking help. 

True. Stigmatizing language like “drug abuse” or “addict” can inflict a sense of shame that stops someone from seeking help. 

Together we can save lives.

The overdose crisis, with the increasingly toxic and unpredictable unregulated drug supply, continues to have devastating impacts on people, their families, friends and the community. Learn more about the situation in Ottawa, how we can address this complex crisis together, and where harm reduction and treatments services and supports are available.

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