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Simcoe Muskoka Opioid Strategy


Skip Navigation LinksSimcoe Muskoka Opioid Strategy > Prevention

Prevent Opioid Use​

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In the face of an unprecedented national public health crisis related to opioid addiction, the Simcoe Muskoka Opioid Strategy first seeks to prevent addiction. Prevention requires investing in education and awareness for people of all ages, but perhaps most importantly for children and youth. Below you will find resources for parents, for educators and for anyone who wants to learn about how they can make a difference in supporting mental health in their community. 

What you need to know about Opioids:
  • U.S. Centers for Disease Control: Opioid Factsheet for Patients
  • Ministry of Health: Know the potential risks

    Prescription opioids are used to treat pain and come in different forms including pills, patches and liquid. Opioids can be a very effective way to relieve pain however even when taken as prescribed, they can lead to dependence or addiction. If not used as directed or in combination with alcohol or other drugs, opioids may lead to an overdose. When being prescribed an opioid by a health care practitioner it is important to know why you are taking it, any side effects or contraindications as well as what is the plan for tapering or coming off the opioids. What should you expect and are there any other treatment options are also important considerations. 
Depending on the type of pain you are experiencing, options may include: 
  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol®) or ibuprofen (Advil®) 
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy:
    • A psychological, goal-directed approach in which patients learn how to modify physical, behavioral, and emotional triggers of pain and stress 
  • Exercise therapy, including physical therapy
  • ​Medications for depression or for seizures 
  • Interventional therapies (injections)
  • Exercise and weight loss
  • Other therapies such as acupuncture and massage ​​​​

Additional Resources:

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A national 24-hour, bilingual and anonymous phone counselling, web counselling and referral service for children and youth.  ​​
To understand opioid misuse and how to prevent it, we must first understand what they are. Opioids are a family of drugs (i.e. fentanyl, morphine, oxycodone, Percocet) used to treat pain and are often referred to as prescription painkillers but some people use opioids, prescription (as listed above) or illicit opioids e.g. heroine to get high. Some people may even use prescription opioids for non-medical purposes i.e. use somebody else’s prescription to get high, self-medicate or “numb out”. Opioids for whatever reason they are taken, are classified as depressant drugs, which means that they slow down the part of the brain that controls breathing. They may in turn interact with other substances such as alcohol, sedatives or antianxiety medication that may also act as a depressant drug. Taken together these ​​​​drugs ​​have a deadly effect.​​
Opioid use whether used for pain (prescription) or illicitly (recreationally to get high) can lead to a substance use disorder including addiction. Opioid addiction refers to a group of signs or symptoms and behaviors that indicate a person is both physically and psychologically dependent 
​​on the substance. The individual will continue to use de​spite the negative physical, personal or social consequences. ​
Triple P gives parents simple tips to help manage the big and small problems of family life by helping to create a positive, caring relationship with your children and family. Triple P is for every parent whether you have a specific problem or are just looking for advice on common, everyday issues from toddler tantrums to teenage rebellion, it provides easy to use tips and new ideas that will help you build confidence and skills. Parents can talk with someone over the telephone, in person, individually or in a group— for more information, contact Health Connection, 705-721-7520 or 1-877-721-7520. ​​
Talking to your teenager about drug use can be awkward. Teenagers don’t often see a danger in using prescription opioids, particularly if they have been prescribed them or have seen others within their family or peer group using them. Parents have a great influence on their teenager’s values, behaviors, and decisions they make. While teenagers are strongly .influenced by their peers, parents also have a strong impact. That is why it is so important to monitor your own actions including prescription opioids and other substances including drugs and alcohol. Stay involved with your teen, talk to them, show an interest in their lives, provide guidance and structure, and let your teen know that they matter and you love them. ​
The Ontario Student Drug Use and Health Survey (OSDUHS) is a population survey of Ontario students in grades 7 through 12. The OSDUHS began in 1977 and is the longest ongoing school survey in Canada, and one of the longest in the world. This self-administered, anonymous survey is conducted across the province every two years with the purpose of identifying epidemiological trends in student drug use, mental health, physical health, gambling, bullying, and other risk behaviours, as well as identifying risk and protective factors. This survey is important because it provides current and reliable information about the health risk behaviours, attitudes and beliefs of Ontario adolescents, and tracks changes over time. 
A police services educational program with a mission to teach students good decision-making skills to help them lead safe and healthy lives.

Drug and Alcohol Awareness Program for grades 9-11. A step-by-step planning guide is available online to support organizers with planning, implementing and evaluating the program. Public health nurses are also available to provide support and consultation. ​​
Suggested for Grades 9 to 12. This program aims to increase awareness about mental illness and the stigma surrounding it. A Teacher’s Resource Guide is available for download. For further resources from the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit including Lesson Plans click here. If you are concerned about a student and/or would like additional information related to counselling or community supports? Find out where to get help
Anybody can develop a substance use disorder (mother, brother, teacher, friend etc.). Stigma related to addictions and mental health often results in shame and people not seeking services that may support recovery. People experiencing issues related to addiction (substance use disorders) often feel alienated and disconnected. In order to prevent substance misuse it is important to create an environment of acceptance free from stigma. ​​​​