Alberta RCMP responded to more than twice as many overdoses in 2023.
From January to November 2023, Alberta RCMP responded to over 100 percent more drug overdoses than in all of 2022, including frequently suspected fentanyl overdoses with a high fatality rate.
There was also a 24 percent increase in the number of naloxone deployments in response to overdoses in 2023. From January to August 2023, there were 1262 opioid-related deaths in Alberta, which is up by 255 compared to the same period in 2022.
Many of the overdoses are due to the dangerous practice of cutting Fentanyl, it is also being mixed with other substances that are easier and cheaper to access.
A side effect of this mixing is that it reduces the effectiveness of naloxone, meaning more doses are needed to save someone’s life, if it works at all.
The Alberta RCMP is issuing a warning reminding the public that street drugs are not always what they appear to be.
Drugs marketed as fentanyl (sometimes pink, blue, red, purple, or containing a mixture of these colors) may be a mixture of unknown potency and characteristics, making a user’s “normal dose” potentially more dangerous.
The increase in overdoses, and the possible resistance to naloxone, suggest that fatal overdoses may occur more often.
Alberta RCMP is reminding the public the signs of a fentanyl overdose include slow, irregular, and shallow breathing, pinpoint pupils, muscle stiffness, seizures, and unconsciousness. Alberta RCMP also wants to remind the public of these safe practices to follow if you are going to use illicit drugs:
- Avoid using while alone.
- Ask someone to check on you, or use while on the phone with a trusted person able to call for assistance in the event of an overdose.
- Know the signs and symptoms of poisoning/overdose, and call 911 for direction and support.
- Carry a naloxone kit, and know how to use it to respond to a suspected opioid poisoning/overdose.
- Consider using the Digital Overdose Response System app when consuming drugs.
The RCMP is working with other law enforcement agencies to keep both domestic production and importation of Fentanyl out of communities.
In August, new federal regulations classified certain chemicals as fentanyl precursors, allowing law enforcement to act against any illegal importation, distribution, and use of these precursor chemicals.
If anyone has information about illegal activity regarding fentanyl or any other drug, please contact Strathmore RCMP at 403-934-3968.
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