Naloxone kits to counteract opioid overdose are routinely handed out to drug users in Red Deer. (File photo by Jeff Stokoe/Advocate staff)

Fentanyl death rate in Red Deer still high

Nine deaths so far in 2017

Red Deer no longer has the highest rate of fentanyl deaths in Alberta, but per capita the city’s rate is still higher than Edmonton and Calgary.

As of June Red Deer’s rate was 14.9 per 100,000 and Grande Prairie was the highest at 23.4 according to the latest report from Alberta Health. Both communities have had nine deaths so far in 2017.

Calgary’s rate was at 14.9 with 98 deaths and Edmonton was at 13.3 with 65 deaths.

In 2016 Red Deer had the highest rate of fentanyl overdose deaths at 21 and there were 23 fentanyl-related deaths.

“The most concerning thing is we’ve implemented all these strategies. We have multiple places where people can access naloxone. We are increasing access to opiate replacement therapy and are numbers are still not decreasing,” said Sarah Fleck, interim operational manager at Turning Point.

“There still needs to be more in place to effectively combat the opiate crisis.”

She said so far this month Turning Point has distributed about 200 naloxone kits, and 50 drug overdose reversals and two fatalities have been reported to the agency.

“That’s a really substantial number in just over two weeks.”

She said Turning Point is still wondering when the city will be saturated with kits. More are being used and more people are learning about them and accessing them.

“We haven’t yet reached a place where we are stabilizing in terms of how many naloxone kits are going out each month.”

Across the province 241 people have died of fentanyl-related overdoses as of June. From January to March 122 died and from April to June 119 died.

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