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

Just Posted

Shanna Lydiard is upset to have had mail delivery cut off last month to her West Park street because of water main reconstruction. Delivery is to resume by May 19 at the latest, according to the City of Red Deer. (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff).
Red Deer woman frustrated by mail delivery suspension due to construction

Shanna Lydiard said residents shouldn’t have to drive across the city for their mail

Innisfail-Sylvan Lake MLA Devin Dreeshen received his COVID-19 vaccine Tuesday at Jackson’s Pharmacy in Innisfail. (Devin Creeshen Twitter photo)
COVID-19: Most local MLAs have received their first vaccine shot

Alberta’s NDP is encouraging all MLAs to get vaccinated and publicly promote… Continue reading

Alberta continues to wrestle with high COVID-19 case numbers. (NIAID-RML via AP)
Red Deer up to 858 active cases of COVID-19

Province reports additional 1,799 cases of the virus

Bo's Bar and Grill owner Brennen Wowk said the hospitality industry is looking for more clarity from the province around what conditions must be met to allow for restaurants reopening.
(Advocate file photo)
Frustated restaurant owners want to know government’s reopening plan

Restaurant owners feel they are in lockdown limbo

The Bowden Institution medium security facility near Bowden has 15 active COVID-19 cases. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh)
15 active COVID-19 cases at Bowden prison

Bowden Institution has had 36 positive cases this year with 21 recovered and no deaths

Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer and several members of city council helped kick off the spring Green Deer cleanup campaign on Wednesday. Veer said city workers do their best to keep the city looking good, but need volunteer help to get rid of litter that has blown into bushes onto road sides over the winter. (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff)
Red Deer city councillors launch spring Green Deer campaign

Volunteers are needed to keep the city looking good

Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Jack Campbell (36) makes a save as Maple Leafs defenceman TJ Brodie (78) and Montreal Canadiens forward Tyler Toffoli (73) look for the rebound during first period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Saturday, May 8, 2021. The Leafs and the Canadiens will meet in the playoffs for the first time in 42 years when the 2020-21 NHL post-season gets underway.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Leafs, Habs will face off in long-awaited playoff rematch, Oilers will face Jets

Leafs, Habs will face off in long-awaited playoff rematch, Oilers will face Jets

Edmonton Oilers' Dominik Kahun (21) scores the winning goal on Montreal Canadiens goaltender Cayden Primeau (30) during overtime NHL hockey action Wednesday, May 12, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Oilers edge Canadiens 4-3 on Dominik Kahun’s overtime winner

Oilers edge Canadiens 4-3 on Dominik Kahun’s overtime winner

FILE - In this Feb. 29, 2020, file photo, National Rifle Association Executive Vice President and CEO Wayne LaPierre speaks at Conservative Political Action Conference, CPAC 2020, in Oxon Hill, Md. Federal Judge Harlin Hale announced his decision Tuesday, May 11, 2021, to dismiss the National Rifle Association's bankruptcy case over whether the powerful gun-rights group should be allowed to incorporate in Texas instead of New York, after 11 days of testimony and arguments. Lawyers for New York and the NRA's former advertising agency grilled the group's embattled top executive, LaPierre, who acknowledged putting the NRA into Chapter 11 bankruptcy without the knowledge or assent of most of its board and other top officers. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File)
Judge dismisses NRA bankruptcy case in blow to gun group

Judge dismisses NRA bankruptcy case in blow to gun group

Hassan Diab holds a news conference on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa Friday, February 7 , 2020.  THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand
Canada must not extradite Diab regardless of coming French court decision: lawyer

Canada must not extradite Diab regardless of coming French court decision: lawyer

Vancouver mayor-elect Kennedy Stewart addresses supporters in Vancouver on Sunday, Oct. 21, 2018. Vancouver's mayor says he understands that some drug users aren't happy with the city's proposed model for decriminalization but time is of the essence and the details can be worked out later. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Vancouver mayor says there’s no time for drug decriminalization redo

Vancouver mayor says there’s no time for drug decriminalization redo

The RCMP logo is seen outside Royal Canadian Mounted Police "E" Division Headquarters, in Surrey, B.C., on Friday, April 13, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Saskatchewan Mountie charged with first-degree murder after man found dead in woods

Saskatchewan Mountie charged with first-degree murder after man found dead in woods

Garneau quarantine travel to Iceland raises government confusion over rules

Garneau quarantine travel to Iceland raises government confusion over rules

Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet rises during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Wednesday, May 12, 2021. After repeatedly voting non-confidence in the minority Liberal government, the Bloc Quebecois is now calling on the government to do everything possible to avoid an election during the COVID-19 pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
BQ calls on Liberals to avoid pandemic election, despite voting non-confidence

BQ calls on Liberals to avoid pandemic election, despite voting non-confidence

Most Read