The COVID-19 pandemic has created unintended consequences for people who use substances. Public health restrictions, such as the implementation of social/physical distancing, have created significant challenges to accessing and delivering harm reduction services. Border closings, meanwhile, reduced the drug supply, which led to increased toxicity of the drugs that were available.
Specifically, the opioid crisis has led to the declaration of a public health emergency in British Columbia due to significant increase in deaths from drug toxicity; other provinces, such as Ontario, are reporting higher mortality rates since COVID-19 emerged.
Nurses play a key role in advocating for and administering harm reduction services such as naloxone kits, supervised consumption sites, and public health education. They need to be supported in continuing these critical interventions to prevent further morbidity and mortality.
The following resources provide tools and information that can help nurses address the opioid crisis within their communities: