Turning Point raises awareness of opioid crisis
While sometimes it feels that Drumheller is insulated from many of the issues facing larger centres, however, the very real threat of fentanyl cannot be dismissed as a big city problem.
Last week, Drumheller FCSS partnered with the Turning Point Society of Central Alberta to discuss drug trends and overdose protection. Sarah Fleck, nursing manager for Turning Point says that some of the most harmful opioids including fentanyl and carfentanil are not to be ignored.
“We started doing overdose prevention work in July of 2015, because we were asked to do that work by Alberta Health because the opioid overdoses were already happening at that time,” said Fleck. “Since that time it has substantially increased.”
In 2016, there were 349 deaths from apparent drug overdoses related to fentanyl, including 22 cases where carfentanil was involved. In the first six weeks of 2017, 51 have perished. Fleck said many are surprised at how the drugs are getting on the street and just how strong and unpredictable they can be.
“When you take a medication or a pill and you don’t know if there is fentanyl in it or not, you have no idea how to dose yourself. That is why overdoses happen really frequently,” she said, adding that while a smaller group actively seeks out the drug, many more often don’t even know they are taking it.
“Most people are choosing another drug and it has fentanyl in it without knowing,” she said.
Fleck says Albertans are aware of the crisis. The session in Drumheller’s goal was to also talk about overdose prevention. “We are getting some of the messaging out, more people are aware of where to get naloxone kits, which is the overdose medication which helps temporarily reverse an overdose, and more people are carrying them. Unfortunately there seems to still be so much fentanyl coming across from China and there is so much on the street, the fatalities are not decreasing, they are actually increasing.”
She said a number people at the presentation took home naloxone kits and while they do target high-risk groups, she says the crisis is affecting people in all walks of life.
Locally naloxone kits are available at Riverside Value Drug Mart and Shoppers Drug Mart.