75% of people who die of opioid overdose have a permanent address. The real face of Red Deer’s drug crisis may surprise you.

75% of people who die of opioid overdose have a permanent address. The real face of Red Deer’s drug crisis may surprise you.

A government report debunks the widely held notion that Albertans dying from opioid overdoses are mostly drug-addicted homeless.

Seventy-five per cent of those who died from an opioid overdose in 2017 had a permanent address, and 62 per cent died in their own homes, according to a report released this month by Alberta Health.

Stacey Carmichael, executive director of the harm reduction agency Turning Point, said the results of the report were not surprising.

“The majority of folks are overdosing in their own home. That’s what we’ve been saying,” Carmichael said.

The opioid crisis and homelessness are two separate issues, she said.

“I can’t reinforce this enough how we’ve pigeonholed this issue to one demographic of people, which isn’t fair to anybody, and is, in fact, probably contributing to the death rate,” Carmichael said.

“This isn’t a homelessness problem. It’s an everyone problem.”

Related:

Trudeau resists pressure to decriminalize drugs in face of opioid crisis

Opioid crisis weighs heavily on Red Deer paramedics, dispatchers

She said in the last fiscal year, 2,115 individuals accessed Turning Point’s harm reduction program.

“That in itself speaks volumes to me. Two thousand, one hundred and fifteen people are not homeless in Red Deer. It’s just time we started rethinking this. Start working towards solutions, instead of building walls and fences.”

Data in the report also showed that 74 per cent of fatal overdoses involved non-prescription opioids purchased on the street.

“This is a bigger thing than prescription drugs. That’s why you’ll often hear advocates talk about access to a safe supply.”

Carmichael said society needs to start to look at the challenge differently.

Years ago, mental illness was swept under the rug; but now, more people are talking about it. Hopefully, that same shift with happen with substance abuse, she said.

“It’s super important that people put their judgment aside. There is so much shame and misinformation about drug use and people who use drugs.”

Medical diagnoses for psychiatric conditions or chronic pain, and previous stays in provincial custody, were other common factors among people who died an opioid-related death.

“Stigma or negative views about people who use opioids can prevent them from speaking out or seeking supports or treatment. They may be more likely to use alone, overdose alone and die alone, as was the case in 66 per cent of deaths in 2017,” the report stated.



szielinski@reddeeradvocate.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Turning Point

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Red Deer city council gave initial approval for more mixed-use developments in Riverside Light Industrial Park. (File photo by Advocate staff)
More industrial landowners in Red Deer are pursuing mixed-use zoning

A third of Riverside Light could become a commercial/industrial district

Central Alberta man facing second-degree murder in connection with December death.
Advocate file photo
Central Alberta man facing second-degree murder in connection with December death

Maskwacis RCMP said female found dead in Ermineskin Cree Nation residence last December

Red Deer College has been working towards obtaining university status for a couple of years. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Red Deer College’s university status back in question

Red Deer College should be worried that its university dreams could be… Continue reading

The Mountain Cree Traditional Band headquarters in Mirror, Alta. has been the target of theft and vandalism. (Photo submitted)
Vandals strike: Artifacts worth $1M gone from central Alberta museum

AWNTB says not enough been done to deter crime in Mirror, Alta.

Justin Kripps of Summerland and his team have competed in Olympic action and World Cup competitions in bobsleigh. (Jason Ransom-Canadian Olympic Comittee).
QUIZ: Are you ready for some winter sports?

It’s cold outside, but there are plenty of recreation opportunities in the winter months

Montreal Canadiens down Edmonton Oilers 3-1, sweep series

Montreal Canadiens down Edmonton Oilers 3-1, sweep series

Toronto Raptors forward Pascal Siakam (43) loses the basketball as he tries to drive around Dallas Mavericks center Willie Cauley-Stein (33) during the second half of an NBA basketball game Monday, Jan. 18, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Chris O'Meara
Lowry leads the way as Raptors down the Mavericks for their third straight win

Lowry leads the way as Raptors down the Mavericks for their third straight win

Johnny Gaudreau’s goal and assist paces Flames to 5-2 victory over Canucks

Johnny Gaudreau’s goal and assist paces Flames to 5-2 victory over Canucks

Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole holds a press conference on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa, on Dec. 10, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Tory MP Sloan accuses party of hypocrisy over efforts to have him expelled

Tory MP Sloan accuses party of hypocrisy over efforts to have him expelled

FILE - In this Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2019 file photo Britain's Andy Murray reacts during a press conference following his first round loss to Spain's Roberto Bautista Agut at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia. Former world number one Murray's participation at the upcoming Australian Open is in doubt after the Briton tested positive for COVID-19. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung, File)
Australian Open arrivals hit by 3 COVID-19 positive tests

Australian Open arrivals hit by 3 COVID-19 positive tests

Toronto Maple Leafs right wing Mitchell Marner (16) scores on an empty net and takes a hit from Winnipeg Jets defenceman Neal Pionk (4) during third period of action in Toronto on Monday, January 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Toronto Maple Leafs ride dominant second period to down Winnipeg Jets 3-1

Toronto Maple Leafs ride dominant second period to down Winnipeg Jets 3-1

Roman Sadovsky wins the Challenge, his only event of the figure skating season

Roman Sadovsky wins the Challenge, his only event of the figure skating season

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, left, speaks with International Ice Hockey Federation President Rene Fasel during their meeting in Minsk, Belarus, Monday, Jan. 11, 2021. (Nikolai Petrov/BelTA Pool Photo via AP)
IIHF pulls hockey worlds from Belarus, seeks new host

IIHF pulls hockey worlds from Belarus, seeks new host

Most Read