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2023 drug-poisoning death numbers surpass 2022 total: data

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According to the latest data released by the province, 140 Albertans died from drug-poisoning in November 2023, bringing the year’s total to 1,841.

When comparing only the first 11 months of the year, 2023 has a higher number of deaths than any year prior.

According to the Alberta Substance Use Surveillance System (ASUSS) with 1,841 deaths so far, 2023 has surpassed the yearly total for 2022 by more than 100. So far, last year had 34 fewer deaths than 2021 which was the highest year on record with 1,875. Data for December 2023 has not yet been released by the province. 

Of the 140 newly reported deaths, 138, or 99 per cent, involved opioids. All but 135 of the 1,841 drug-poisoning deaths reported in Alberta during 2023 did not involve opioids.

Based on reports done on more than 924 people who died of accidental drug-poisoning last year, fentanyl was present in 80 per cent of deaths, methamphetamine in 63 per cent and carfentanil in 24 per cent. In Edmonton, when analyzing 586 deaths, those numbers were even higher with fentanyl present in 84 per cent of deaths, methamphetamine in 66 per cent and carfentanil in 34 per cent.

The age group with the highest number of drug-poisonings in 2023 was the 35- to 39-year-old demographic with 313 deaths. Sixty-nine per cent of those were male. 

From a geographical standpoint, 50 of November's 140 deaths were in Edmonton, 41 were in Calgary and the other 49 occurred elsewhere in the province.

Of the more than 1,800 drug-poisoning deaths reported in 2023 thus far, 36 per cent have occurred in Edmonton and 33 per cent in Calgary.

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