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Stats show fentanyl overdose deaths in Alberta on the rise


September 24, 2020
By Mo Cranker, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Medicine Hat News 

More than two people are dying every day in Alberta from an overdose.

The provincial government released Quarter Two statistics from this year, which show a stark increase in fentanyl-related poisoning.

In the second quarter of 2020, 301 people have died of an unintentional opioid poisoning. Of those, 284 were fentanyl-related deaths. There were 130 fentanyl-related overdoses in the first quarter of the year.

In the second quarter the Calgary Zone had 115 fentanyl overdoses. The Edmonton zone had 99.

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The South zone had the highest rate per 100,000 person years, at 23.1.

There were 17 apparent overdose deaths in the province related to an opioid other than fentanyl. There were 18 in the first quarter.

The Edmonton zone had six of these deaths in the second quarter. The South zone had the highest rate of non-fentanyl related opioid poisonings with 3.9 per cent per 100,000-person years.

There were 3,028 emergency and urgent care visits related to opioids and other drugs in the second quarter. That is up from 2,472 in the previous quarter.

There were 40,755 visits to supervised consumption sites in the province during the second quarter. There were 114,430 in the previous quarter.

The sites saw 1,450 unique clients on average per month in the second quarter. There were 587 adverse events attended at the sites during the second quarter.

Fentanyl-related deaths accounted for 94 per cent of opioid deaths in this quarter, up from 82 per cent in last year’s Q2. In 2016, that figure was 62 per cent.

There were 25 fentanyl-related deaths in the South zone this past quarter, up from 11 in Quarter One.

Medicine Hat has had five fentanyl-related deaths in 2020.

There were 21 carfentanil deaths in Alberta from April to June. Of those, 17 were in Edmonton. Zero were in the South zone.

There have been zero non-fentanyl related drug poisonings in Medicine Hat this year.

Of the fentanyl-related deaths, 79 per cent were men. Men ages 35 to 39 was the demographic most hit by these deaths. For women, it was 30-34.

Of the opioid deaths not related to fentanyl, 57 per cent were among men. For men and women, the age most impacted was 55-59.

So far this year there have been 28 EMS responses to opioid related events in Medicine Hat.

– By Mo Cranker, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Medicine Hat News 

The Canadian Press Enterprises Inc., 2020