Opi­oid ods spike in al­berta

Prov­ince has seen vis­its to emer­gency mul­ti­ply by 10 times in five years

Edmonton Sun - - NEWS - ClarE ClaNCy

The num­ber of vis­its to hos­pi­tal emer­gency de­part­ments in Al­berta from opi­oid over­doses has mul­ti­plied more than 10 times in five years, ac­cord­ing to a new re­port.

In 2016-17, there were an av­er­age of 11 emer­gency de­part­ment vis­its per day at­trib­uted to over­doses. The is­sue is es­pe­cially prom­i­nent in youth aged 15 to 24 — the group had the fastest-grow­ing rate of such vis­its, tripling in five years, said the re­port re­leased Thurs­day.

The Cana­dian In­sti­tute for Health In­for­ma­tion study — which mea­sured rates of emer­gency room vis­its as well as hos­pi­tal­iza­tions from opi­oid over­doses across Canada — high­lighted an on­go­ing pub­lic health cri­sis.

“Trag­i­cally, in 2016, we estimate there were about 2,500 ap­par­ent opi­oid-re­lated deaths in Canada, which is greater than the num­ber of Cana­di­ans who died at the height of the HIV epi­demic in 1995,“said Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief pub­lic health of­fi­cer, in the re­port.

The Al­berta gov­ern­ment launched a com­mis­sion in May as part of its strat­egy to com­bat the deadly trend, and the pro­vin­cial health min­istry is con­duct­ing a quar­terly anal­y­sis. In Au­gust, the anal­y­sis into the sec­ond quar­ter of 2017 found that more than one death in Al­berta per day was linked to fen­tanyl.

And Al­berta isn’t alone — na­tion­ally, the rate of hos­pi­tal­iza­tions from opi­oid over­doses jumped 53 per cent in the last decade. North­ern and west­ern Canada suf­fered the high­est rates com­pared to the rest of the coun­try.

Opi­oids — in­clud­ing fen­tanyl, heroin and oxy­codone — are pre­scribed by doc­tors to treat pain, but they are also ad­dic­tive and can be bought il­le­gally.

The re­port found in 63 per cent of cases where se­niors needed to be hos­pi­tal­ized in 2016-17, their opi­oid over­doses were ac­ci­den­tal. This com­pared to youth hos­pi­tal­iza­tions, where 44 per cent of over­doses were in­ten­tional.

In 2016-17, Edmonton’s rate of emer­gency de­part­ment vis­its for opi­oid over­doses was among the high­est in the coun­try, at 85.2 per 100,000 peo­ple in the cen­sus metropoli­tan area. This com­pared to 99.4 per 100,000 in Cal­gary and just 23 per 100,000 in Toronto.

Provin­cially, Al­berta’s rate in 2016-17 was 88.6 per 100,000 com­pared to On­tario at 34.6 per 100,000. This was up from Al­berta’s 37.6 per 100,000 and On­tario’s 23.5 per 100,000 in 2012-13.

Al­berta’s pro­vin­cial rate for hos­pi­tal­iza­tions due to over­dose was also high, at 23.1 per 100,000 com­pared to the na­tional rate of 15.5 per 100,000. The ter­ri­to­ries, though, had the high­est re­gional rate, at 34.5 per 100,000 peo­ple re­quir­ing hos­pi­tal­iza­tion due to over­dose.

The re­port used data from the Hos­pi­tal Mor­bid­ity Data­base as well as the Na­tional Am­bu­la­tory Care Re­port­ing Sys­tem to col­lect clin­i­cal and de­mo­graphic in­for­ma­tion on hos­pi­tal­iza­tions.

dr. Tam 2,500 deaths

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