Opioid deaths more than double in Alberta during COVID-19 pandemic

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“This has exacerbated the struggles of many Albertans, including those struggling with substance use.”

The vast majority (284) of Alberta’s accidental overdose deaths in the second quarter involved fentanyl, a 54 per cent increase from the first quarter. Meanwhile, overdoses from opioids other than fentanyl continue to decline.

The Alberta Health Services Calgary zone is the site of 115 of those 284 fentanyl-related deaths, the highest count among any provincial health zone and the most ever for the city. The Edmonton zone had 99 fentanyl-related deaths.

About half of all Calgary deaths due to fentanyl overdoses occurred at the victim’s home. The neighbourhoods of Beltline, Albert Park, Forest Heights and Dover all suffered five or more such deaths, but overdoses were recorded in all quadrants of the city and in many suburban communities.

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi said Wednesday more action is needed to combat the rising toll from opioids. He said he believes the solution is more, smaller supervised drug-consumption sites throughout the city instead of one large central one.

I’ve been saying for six months now that the public health and physical health of people is paramount, but we must also be addressing the mental-health crisis,” he said.

“Clearly, the time for real action on the opioid crisis is long past but that doesn’t give us an excuse not to take real action now.”

More fentanyl overdoses are coming from a cross-contamination of drugs, with 82 per cent of the deaths listed as having more than one substance contributing to the death. Methamphetamine is most commonly found, in 58 per cent of the overdoses, while cocaine is present in 30 per cent of fentanyl deaths.



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