Opioid overdoses up in Edmonton from last year
EDMONTON -- Agencies in Alberta are reporting a spike in drug overdoses, particularly in Edmonton.
Workers on the front line are seeing it first-hand.
“Yesterday someone behind this building was found to be unconscious with a probably overdose,” Marliss Taylor, Manager of the Street Works Program said.
In May of 2019, emergency crews responded to 108 opioid-related emergencies. In May of 2020, that number jumped to 248.
The increase has prompted Alberta Health Services to issue a warning, urging anyone buying illegal drugs to use extreme caution.
EMS said they are seeing cases city-wide.
Last Friday alone, emergency workers were called to 16 opioid related situations. The daily average is nine.
“We’re seeing everyday people going out, they might be trying a pill for the first time, they might be trying something they don’t realize is an opioid,” said Alex Campbell with EMS.
“The word on the street is, people believe they’re buying methamphetamine that in fact has something in it that’s causing these overdoses,” said Taylor.
AHS data doesn’t include information about what is causing the overdoses, but it is urging users to pick up a free naloxone kit at a pharmacy.
But Taylor said in some recent cases she’s aware of, responders have needed eight or nine vials of naloxone to revive a person during an overdose. The free kits only come with three.
AHS has not released the number of overdose cases that have turned fatal. Taylor said she knows of six presumed fatal overdoses in the last two weeks.
“They are all young people,” she said. “One I knew very well for the last 25 years. That’s tragic.”
AHS is expected to release more data shortly.