The number of drug-related deaths in Alberta has once again passed the 1,300 mark for the third year in a row.
Data updated this month from the Alberta Substance Use Monitoring System shows there were 1,443 drug poisoning deaths in the province from January to November 2022, of which 1,347 were caused by opioids.
Colin Aitchison, press secretary to Mental Health and Addictions Minister Nicholas Milliken, said in a statement: “While each life lost to addiction is too many, we are cautiously optimistic about the continued decline since the peak in late 2021 “
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In November 2022, 123 drug poisoning deaths were counted, of which 121 were related to opioids. This is down from 191 and 173 in November 2021 respectively.
“Additionally, hospitalizations and emergency department visits related to opioid addiction are at their lowest point since the beginning of the pandemic, and are set to peak in late 2021 by 39 percent and 40 percent, respectively,” Aitchison said. has decreased.”
“Our government will continue to improve access to addiction treatment and recovery support by building recovery-oriented systems of care to save more lives and further reduce deaths.
Last year’s 11-month total surpassed 2020’s total of 1,387 drug poisoning deaths and 1,184 opioid-related deaths, but is less than 2021’s record deaths of 1,842 and 1,621, respectively.
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But year after year, a trend has emerged: A large proportion of drug poisonings have been caused by opioids.
In 2019, 78 percent of drug poisoning deaths were attributed to opioids.
Through 2022 to November, 93 percent were from opioids, and a phased increase was seen in the intervening years.
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A record was set in the latest data released by the province: the number of community site naloxone kits given out in the third quarter of 2022. The 34,306 kits handed out at community sites in Q3 2022 surpassed the Q3 2021 total of 33,943.
And self-reported fatalities in the province also hit a record in Q3 of 2022: 16,459, compared to 15,771 in 2021.
Naloxone is a fast-acting drug that is used to temporarily reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. Health Canada states that naloxone can restore breathing within two to five minutes, and is usually administered by nasal spray or injection.
As part of the provincial government’s “recovery-oriented system”, the province recently introduced public safety and community response task forces for Edmonton and Calgary.
Albertans can access the Virtual Opioid Dependency Program (VODP) at 1-844-383-7688, which provides access to free, same-day addiction medicine specialists from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week.
The province also launched Digital Overdose Response System Virtual App It connects users to emergency responders if they don’t respond to an alert.
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