August 31 is International Overdose Awareness Day where we remember our loved ones who have suffered through addiction, and remember the lives that were lost due to an overdose. Despite the strong rain and cold temperatures, several community members held a vigil and walk in Kinsmen Park to honour the day.
The Addiction Resource Coalition (ARC) of Strathmore & Wheatland (formerly Strathmore & Wheatland Addiction Team) organized the vigil, and explained overdose is a bigger issue than you might think. In 2022 there were more than 7300 apparent opioid toxicity deaths in Canada; that's an average of 20 deaths per day.
Community Coordinator for the Wheatland Youth Network and a member of ARC Adelaide Milian added the thing most people don't think about when it does come to overdose is that 46% of people who overdose are often alone in their residence.
"We are just reminding people to check in with people that are struggling and try to find them the right resources, but also supporting them where you can and helping them where you can as well."
To promote education and awareness in the community, ARC is committed to providing a variety of initiatives to boost resilience. ARC supports a number of different campaigns and awareness days throughout the year such as National Addiction Awareness Week, International Overdose Awareness Day, and Mental Health Week.
Milian explains if people are struggling with addiction there are numerous resources in town that can assist them in many different ways.
"They can come to ARC, I think that that is a huge thing and we can point you in the right direction. Another thing to look out for is the Strathmore Wheatland Wellness Resource Project, that is another group that can connect you to the proper resources, there is the Strathmore FCSS, Wheatland FCSS, they are great tools for addiction, and any kind of national wide that would be on the Alberta Health Services (AHS) website for addiction."
All stats are for 2023 (to date) in Alberta:
- Drug poisoning deaths - 802- 68% male (1.7k in 2022)
- Opiates – 769 – 68% male (1.5k in 2022)
- Non-pharma opiates – 754 – 69% male (1.4k in 2022)
- Pharmopiates - 15 - 60% male (77 in 2022)
- Meth – 142 – 67% male (713 in 2022)
- Cocaine – 43 – 67% male (316 in 2022)
- Alcohol – 38 – 76% male (241 in 2022)
- Benzoda – 6 – 66% male (44 in 2022)
If you or someone you know that is struggling with addiction you can reach out to ARC addictionresourcecoalition.ca to find a list of resources or you can call the Alberta Health Services addiction helpline which is available 24/7.
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