Registed Nurses' Association of Ontario


Recognizing International Overdose Awareness Day

August 31 was International Overdose Awareness Day. RNAO released a statement to mark the day, acknowledging that, as nurses, we must take a moment to share and acknowledge the people in Ontario who die daily from opioid-related overdose and substance poisoning. As of April 2020, 647 people had already died in Ontario from an opioid overdose. Each victim was someone's loved one: a parent, a son, a daughter, a sister, a brother, a friend, a co-worker or a neighbor. And many were too young to die. 

We must reflect on the challenges of those who live the precarious cycle of use-overdose-use. They live a difficult and perilous life and often do so in silence. Some look to their community – a teacher, a nurse or other health professional – for support, resources and that glimmer of hope to keep them going.

COVID-19 has exacerbated the opioid crisis. RNAO has spoken up with and for victims and their loved ones, advocating for changes to reduce harm and provide supervised consumption services in any and all communities in need across the province. 

Substance use can happen to anyone from any walk of life, and RNs are not immune. 

RN and RNAO member Kathy Moreland lost her 18-year-old son Austin to a fentanyl-related incident on June 26, 2020. Marilyn Muir, an RN and mother of two, lost her son Neal to overdose in 2016. And Brad Chapman, the brother of RNAO members Dr. Leigh Chapman and RN mother Cori Chapman, died of overdose in 2015. At an inquest following Brad’s death, RNAO participated as a witness alongside his courageous family, providing recommendations that were largely adopted by the jury. In 2018, RNAO’s best practice guideline titled Implementing Supervised Injection Services was released. 

Substance-use disorder is the result of many complex and sometimes intersecting factors, including medical mismanagement, genetic predisposition, and often a need to escape from trauma or mental health pain. These issues must be addressed in conjunction with issues of access to the street drugs that pose more threat to life than ever before.

Read the full statement online and support the call that in this – the Year of the Nurse and the year of COVID-19 – we must commit with resolve and insistence to address this silent killer among us. And be sure to join us on social media to retweet our call to action. 

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