Opioid Surveillance and Monitoring


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


Surveillance and monitoring 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 May 17, 2017, Hamilton Paramedic Services responded to 114 calls related to opioid overdoses. Most opioid overdose cases (74%) were male, and the average age of cases was 36 years.

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 in Hamilton


Naloxone is a medication that reverses the effects of opioid overdose. Since January 2017, 574 naloxone kits were distributed by Public Health Services, and at least 122 people have been revived.

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, 434 kits have been distributed to date. 

Naloxone kits distributed & number of people revived, Hamilton PHS

Naloxone kits distributed and number of people revived, Hamilton Public Health Services

Emergency department visits

Visits for general overdoses and drug misuse: In the past week (May 8 to May 14, 2017), 50 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 February 2017, there were 39 emergency department visits for opioid poisoning at Hamilton hospitals.

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 overdosesor drug misuse in Hamilton hospitals

Emergency department visits for Opioid poisoning

Between October 2016 and February 2017, Hamilton hospitals have seen a sustained increase in opioid poisoning emergency department visits compared to previous months. In February 2017, the latest month of available data, there were  39 emergency department visits at these facilities due to opioid poisoning. This was similar to the 43 visits recorded for the previous month (January 2017).

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

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


Preliminary numbers from the Office of the Chief Coroner indicate that in 2015, 37 Hamilton residents died from opioid toxicity, and 10 residents died due to toxicity from opioids and alcohol. This is the highest number of deaths in the past 11 years of data.

Opioid-related deaths in Hamilton

Opioid-related deaths in Hamilton


Contact us

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