THURSDAY, April 21, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Opioid-related mortality in Ontario, Canada, increased between 2003 and 2020, with the highest rates now seen among younger individuals, according to a study published online April 20 in PLOS ONE.

Lauren A. Paul, from Public Health Ontario in Toronto, and colleagues used mortality data from the Office of the Chief Coroner for Ontario to examine trends related to age and sex among opioid-related mortalities in Canada from 2003 through 2020.

The researchers found that during the study period, there was a shift in the age distribution of mortality, with the greatest mortality rates currently among younger individuals. Mortality rates reached peaks in 2003 at 5.5 deaths per 100,000 person-years for men around age 44 years and 2.2 deaths per 100,000 person-years for women around age 51 years. However, in 2020, rates reached maximums at 67.2 deaths per 100,000 person-years for men around age 35 years and 16.8 deaths per 100,000 person-years for women around age 37 years.

“Our models estimate that opioid-related mortality among the younger population will continue to grow, and that current conditions could lead to male mortality rates that are more than quadruple those of prepandemic estimations,” the authors write. “This analysis may inform a refocusing of public health strategy for reducing rising rates of opioid-related mortality, including effectively reaching both older and younger males, as well as young females, with health and social supports such as treatment and harm reduction measures.”

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