Hamilton Opioid Information System


March 2017: Public Health Services has been notified of reports of a drug called “takeover” or "dirty fentanyl" which is crack laced with fentanyl. Reports are that this drug is causing an immediate and dangerous loss of consciousness. 

December 2016: Be aware that street drugs in Hamilton may contain a deadly opioid drug carfentanil. It is 100 times more toxic than fentanyl and is hidden in other drugs. It will cause more overdoses and deaths.

There is no easy way to know whats in your drugs. You can't see it, smell it or taste it. Substances such as fentanyl and carfentanil can be cut (mixed) with other drugs. Even a very small amount can cause an overdose.

An opioid overdose is a medical emergency. Prevent opioid overdose death and save lives using the 4 C’s of safety:

  • Careful Use - Don’t use alone, go slow by testing the effect with small amounts first
  • Carry naloxone - Get a FREE naloxone kit, and training at the following locations:
    • City of Hamilton Public Health Services Harm Reduction program: 905-546-4276
    • Participating local pharmacies by calling the Drug and Alcohol Helpline: 1-800-565-8603
  • Call 9-1-1 for every overdose. You, your friend or family member needs hospital care to survive.
  • CPR. Push Hard, Push Fast


Opioid information highlights

Hamilton Public Health Services is collaborating with Hamilton Paramedic Services, Hamilton Health Sciences, St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton, and community partners to provide timely opioid-related information to the public.

911 calls for Opioid overdoses

Between January 10, 2017 and July 17, 2017, Hamilton Paramedic Services responded to 174 calls related to opioid overdoses. Most opioid overdose cases (72%) were male, and the average age of cases was 35 years.

More details/trends

Since January 10, 2017, Hamilton Paramedic Services has implemented a new way to better track 911 calls where opioid overdose was suspected to occur. This figure shows the monthly number of paramedic responses related to opioid overdose in Hamilton since January 10, 2017.

Monthly opioid-related 911 calls in Hamilton, Ontario

Monthly opioid-related 911 calls, Hamilton


Naloxone is a medication that reverses the effects of opioid overdose. Since January 2017, 765 naloxone kits were distributed by Public Health Services, and at least 169 people have been revived.

More details/trends

In 2016, Hamilton Public Health Services distributed a total of 462 naloxone kits, and 192 people were reported as being revived by the kits.  This year, 672 kits have been distributed to date. 

Naloxone kits distributed & number of people revived, Hamilton PHS

Naloxone kits distributed and people revived, Hamilton Public Health Services

Emergency department visits

Visits for general overdoses and drug misuse: In the past week (July 10 to July 16, 2017), 54 patients sought care at Hamilton emergency departments for drug misuse or overdoses. This includes overdoses caused by drugs other than opioids.

Visits for opioid poisoning: In April 2017, there were 47 emergency department visits for opioid poisoning at Hamilton hospitals.

More details/trends

Emergency department visits for overdoses and drug misuse

Over the past six months, the number of general overdose emergency department visits has been stable.

Weekly emergency department visits for overdoses or drug misuse in Hamilton hospitals

Weekly emergency department visits for overdoses or drug misuse, Hamilton hospitals

Emergency department visits for Opioid poisoning

Between October 2016 and March 2017, Hamilton hospitals have seen a sustained increase in opioid poisoning emergency department visits compared to previous months. In March 2017, the latest month of available data, there were  48 emergency department visits at these facilities due to opioid poisoning. This was the highest number of monthly visits in the past two years.

For more information about opioid-related emergency department visits and hospitalizations among Ontario and Hamilton residents, view the Public Health Ontario's Interactive Opioid Tool. Note that the number of emergency department visits on the tool for Hamilton count the visits among Hamilton residents, while the numbers on this page count the number of patients visiting Hamilton hospitals.

Monthly opioid poisoning visits, Hamilton Health Sciences and St. Joseph's Healthcare

Monthly opioid poisoning visits, Hamilton Health Sciences and St. Joseph's Healthcare


Opioid-related deaths are increasing annually in Hamilton.

Preliminary numbers from the Office of the Chief Coroner indicate that in the first half of 2016, 24 Hamilton residents died from opioid toxicity. Fourty-six Hamiltonians had opioid-related deaths in 2015, which was the highest yearly number of deaths compared to the previous 10 years. 

More details/trends

Opioid-related deaths in Hamilton

Opioid-related deaths in Hamilton

Between 2005 and 2015, Hamilton had a higher rate of opioid-related deaths when compared to the provincial average.  In 2015, Hamilton's death rate was 57% higher than Ontario's. 

For more information about opioid-related deaths in Ontario, view the Public Health Ontario's Interactive Opioid Tool.

Opioid-related death rates, Hamilton and Ontario

Opioid-related deaths in Hamilton versus Ontario

Contact us

If you have any questions or wish to provide feedback, contact:
Epidemiology & Evaluation
Email: phase@hamilton.ca