New wave of Red Deer drug overdoses reported

Overdose prevention site saw more overdoses than ever in July

Opioids mixed with tranquilizers have been showing up on Red Deer streets, causing more overdoses and potentially more deaths.

Alberta Health Services reported earlier this summer that street drugs in British Columbia contained etizolam, which is similar to benzodiazepines such as Valium, Xanax and Ativan.

When opioids are combined with etizolam, drug users can remain unconscious, which makes it more difficult to know if they require more naloxone, the treatment that reverses opioid overdoses.

“What we’re seeing now is often people will start breathing again, but the level of consciousness sometimes doesn’t improve for hours,” said Sarah Fleck, clinical manager of the harm reduction agency Turning Point, which operates the overdose prevention site in Red Deer.

She said the site started treating people likely impacted by etizolam in June, and in July, staff recorded more overdoses than ever.

“We had 151 overdoses last month, which is substantially higher than any other month. Most of those overdoses required a little extra medical response and support to effectively reverse it.”

She said those clients remain at the site under the supervision of staff in the observation room. It would be difficult for a bystander in the community to provide the same level of oversight, she said.

“It’s a lot of pressure to be constantly monitoring somebody if their breathing is changing, or if they’re displaying any other symptoms of oxygen deprivation.

“In July, clients were definitely talking about using at the overdose prevention site more often, and more frequently, because they were aware that the drugs were stronger.”

Related:

Front line worker in Red Deer: Saving someone’s life who is OD’ing and blue in face is scary, rewarding

Virtual Opioid Dependency Program spreads across Alberta

She said in the community, it’s important that people administer naloxone and call 911 if they suspect an overdose.

“Anybody who is presenting with any sort of symptoms of an overdose should always still be given naloxone, because naloxone will work on the opiate. It’s still really, really important that naloxone is part of the emergency response.

“It has no negative consequences if there’s no opiate.”



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

Only 13 new COVID-19 cases confirmed by Alberta gov’t Saturday

There’s currently only two active cases in province’s central zone

Food Truck Fridays to start new Drive and Dash events next week

Events will be held in Westerner Park parking lot Thursday evenings, Friday afternoons all June

Alberta gov’t to expand mental health supports

The Government of Alberta says a $21.6-million investment will expand online resources… Continue reading

City of Red Deer encouraged residents to participate in Food Bank Ninja Challenge

The City of Red Deer is encouraging residents to participate in a… Continue reading

QUIZ: Test your knowledge of the world of summer sports

In a typical year, there are plenty of summer sporting events and tournaments held across Canada

Protesters rally in Toronto against anti-black, Indigenous racism

TORONTO — Thousands of people are taking part in a rally on… Continue reading

Another COVID-19 case reported in northern New Brunswick on Saturday

CAMPBELLTON, N.B. — People from a city in northern New Brunswick lined… Continue reading

B.C. sees second day in a row with no COVID-19 deaths as schools ready to reopen

VICTORIA — British Columbia announced no new deaths from COVID-19 for the… Continue reading

UN sets pandemic voting rules for Canada’s Security Council campaign

OTTAWA — The United Nations has confirmed that the election for non-permanent… Continue reading

Police watchdog investigating death of Richmond man

RICHMOND, B.C. — British Columbia’s police watchdog has been called in to… Continue reading

COVID-19 cancelled their wedding plans, so they married on a B.C. mountaintop

Ceremony was live streamed to friends and family around the world

Tooting the importance of whistling

OK, so someone who tattles on another person is a whistleblower, and… Continue reading

Police see increase in speedy drivers on quieter streets during pandemic

Police across the country say they’ve been dealing with more complaints about loud, fast vehicles

Most Read