For immediate release
OTTAWA, August 4, 2020 – A parallel crisis that has been exacerbated by the pandemic – Canada’s opioid crisis continues to grow.
The challenges of COVID 19 have overshadowed the fact that the opioid crisis continues to grow, with increased instances of problematic drug use, overdoses and accidental poisonings reported across the country.
Young Canadians aged 15 to 24 are the fastest-growing population requiring hospital care from opioid overdoses. (Government of Canada – Canada’s Opioid Crisis Fact Sheet)
“While we are all facing unique challenges during this pandemic, we don’t want the risk of non-medical use of medications by our kids to be one of them” says Chantal Vallerand, Executive Director of Drug Free Kids Canada. “We encourage parents to be even more vigilant and keep all prescription medications safe, secure, and out of reach of children and others in the household.”
Drug Free Kids Canada’s annual National Drug Drop-off month focuses on the need for secure storage of medications within the home, and the importance of returning expired prescriptions for safe disposal to their pharmacy.
Last year, one in 10 high school students in Ontario reported using prescription painkillers without a prescription. (Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, CAMH, OSDUHS Drug Use Report 2019) – most of them say they got the pills from home. That represents close to 310,000 kids across the country. (A DFK estimate)
There is concern that youth may consider using substances to cope with feelings of stress, anxiety, boredom or isolation during the pandemic. To reduce potential of recreational use of medications by youth, it is more important than ever for parents and caregivers to securely store and properly dispose of unused medications.
48% of Canadian households contain potentially harmful prescriptions, yet only 11% of those homes keep their medications locked up or secure. (DFK Tracking Survey, 2017) Prescription and over the counter medications that are kept in unlocked medicine cabinets at home are susceptible to diversion, non-medical use and problematic use.
The Pill Fairy returns this year to remind parents that he doesn’t exist – so they need to take positive action themselves to keep their kids safe. The National Drug Drop-off campaign is supported by a multi-media campaign led by ad agency FCB in Montreal.
Several organizations are joining Drug Free Kids to promote National Drug Drop-off Month, including the Health Products Stewardship Association.
“We can all play a part in keeping young people safe from the harms of non-medical prescription use. Medications in the home can be accidentally ingested by children, used by family members or even stolen and diverted to the black market. Positive actions like securing all medications in the home and returning them to the HPSA network of community pharmacies for safe disposal go a long way to ensuring that Canadian children are protected from the harms of accidental overdose and problematic use of these drugs. Terri Drover, Director General, Health Products Stewardship Association
About Drug Free Kids Canada
Drug Free Kids Canada is a private sector, non-profit organization that creates and disseminates drug education and prevention messages with the help of their partners in advertising, research and media. DFK also offers parents valuable tools and practical tips on how to start the conversation with their kids at DrugFreeKidsCanada.org.