2006 - 2015 Halton Region Opioid Report

This report summarizes opioid-related emergency department visits and hospitalizations among Halton residents from 2006-2015, with a focus on 2013-2015. The report also includes information on opioid-related deaths occurring in Halton from 2011-2015.


Opioid use is an important health issue that has been receiving increased attention in recent years. Opioids are a class of drugs that includes illegal drugs, such as heroin, as well as prescription drugs used to treat pain, such as codeine and morphine. Rates of opioid prescribing, especially high-dose prescribing, have been increasing in Canada. There are also rising concerns over the presence of powerful opioids such as fentanyl in street drugs. This report examines opioid-related emergency department (ED) visits and hospitalizations (2013-2015), as well as drug overdose deaths (2011-2015) in Halton. Trends over time in ED visits and hospitalizations since 2006 are also presented. ED visit rates are analyzed by age, sex, municipality, and neighbourhood income. However, due to the small number of opioid-related hospitalizations, it was not feasible to further disaggregate hospitalization rates by demographic factors.

Key Findings

Between 2013 and 2015, Halton residents made 162,731 visits to the ED per year and experienced 20,234 hospitalizations per year for any reason. On average, only 223 (0.1%) of these visits and 59 (0.3%) of these hospitalizations were opioid-related each year. Approximately 58% of the opioid-related ED visits involved opioid-related mental or behavioural issues (such as acute intoxication, dependency, or withdrawal), while 43% involved an opioid overdose. Conversely, 64% of hospitalizations involved an opioid overdose, and 37% involved an opioid-related mental or behavioural issue.

Halton versus Ontario:

  • Halton had rates of opioid-related ED visits and hospitalizations that were almost half of Ontario’s rates. This was true for both opioid overdoses and opioid-related mental and behavioural issues.
  • Between 2006 and 2015 there were increases in opioid-related ED visits and hospitalizations in both Ontario and Halton. While the rates were lower in Halton, there has been an approximate doubling of rates in both Halton and Ontario over the past ten years, bringing Halton up to the level of where Ontario was ten years ago.


  • In both Halton and Ontario, males had significantly higher rates of opioid-related ED visits. The sex difference was more pronounced for visits involving opioid-related mental and behavioural issues than it was for visits due to opioid overdose.


  • Adults aged 25-44 had the highest count and rate of ED visits for opioid-related mental and behavioural issues, whereas the rate for ED visits involving opioid overdose was more similar across all age groups but highest among youth and young adults aged 15-24.


  • Burlington had the lowest rate of ED visits involving opioid-related mental and behavioural issues. There were no significant differences between municipalities when considering the rate of ED visits for opioid overdoses.

Neighbourhood income:

  • All types of opioid-related ED visits were more common among residents of low-income neighbourhoods than they were among residents of high-income neighbourhoods.


  • Each year between 2011 and 2015, there were approximately 13 deaths in Halton involving opioid toxicity. On average, only two of these deaths per year involved fentanyl.