Registered Nurse with Turning Point Stephanie Pettigrew was preparing 100 Naloxone kits on Tuesday to give away on Aug. 31 for International Overdose Awareness Day. The kits are available at Turning Point for anyone in need and are funded by Alberta Health Services (AHS). Photo by Mamta Lulla/Red Deer Advocate

International Overdose Awareness Day observed on Thursday

Drug overdose numbers alarming in Central Alberta

Turning Point has handed out 230 naloxone kits and reversed 61 cases of drug overdose cases so far this month.

Registered nurse Stephanie Pettigrew, who works with Turning Point, said the number of kits being handed out each day continues to rise.

“On average we give out 200 to 400 naloxone kits and do anywhere from 60 to 90 reversals [per month],” she said on Tuesday, ahead of Overdose Awareness Day on Thursday.

Since the agency started handing out kits in 2015, the agency has reversed 702 drug overdose cases. The agency has also reported two deaths.

Pettigrew said recent numbers suggest Central Alberta is experiencing a growing number of drug overdose cases affecting various types of the population — from a professor, a person experiencing homelessness to someone living in downtown Red Deer.

Last month the agency reported 90 reversed overdoses, their highest number yet. When Pettigrew was asked about this number being lower this month, she said it’s important to note the month isn’t over yet.

“Fentanyl is very inexpensive and unpredictable and not consistent at all so it leads to a higher risk of overdose,” she said.

Easy access to fentanyl and overdose of the drug initially started in B.C., and is moving eastward in the country.

For International Overdose Awareness Day, Turning Point will set up camp at the City Hall Park to raise awareness about drug overdoses and give away 100 free naloxone kits. The goal is to teach people about drug overdose and ways to prevent it.

Pettigrew explained drug overdose can impact anyone — your brother, your spouse or your teenage child.

“The more people know about overdose, the more we can make an impact,” she explained.

The kits come with an information card and a package that explains what to do in case of a drug overdose. Each kit comes with three bottles of naloxone, three needles and syringes along with alcohol swabs, a breathing mask and a pair of gloves.

People will also find information on depressants and stimulants and other types of drugs.

“We are aware fentanyl is being mixed into every type of drug that is available right now so we want people to be aware,” said Pettigrew.

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