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.”


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.”

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Woman killed in collision west of Rocky Mountain House

A 42-year-old woman is dead after a two-vehicle collision in Clearwater County… Continue reading

Rough camper “tree house” found hidden in Red Deer woods

“This took a bit of work,” says man who discovered it

Central Alberta has one less peacekeeper with death of Nobel Prize-winning vet

The late Wayne Coubrough and Wayne Bevis helped diffuse tensions in the Middle East

TC Energy applauds Nebraska court victory over opponents of Keystone XL pipeline

CALGARY — One of the last major hurdles for the Keystone XL… Continue reading

Tribunal rules Edmonton pharmacist harmed integrity of profession

EDMONTON — An Edmonton pharmacist has been found guilty of unprofessional conduct… Continue reading

WATCH: Trailer stolen from Red Deer deli

A Red Deer business has contacted police after a trailer was stolen… Continue reading

Your community calendar

Thursday The Red Deer and District Garden Club hosts its annual Flower… Continue reading

Alberta loses extra-innings thriller at men’s baseball nationals

Alberta came up just short in their second game at the Baseball… Continue reading

G7 leaders should step up own climate plans to help the Amazon, Greenpeace says

OTTAWA — Some Canadian environment groups are urging Prime Minister Justin Trudeau… Continue reading

Third-party buys billboard to promote Bernier’s anti-mass immigration stance

OTTAWA — Billboards with Maxime Bernier’s face and a slogan advocating against… Continue reading

Ottawa ready to pass law forcing CN to restore rusting Quebec Bridge

Ottawa says its ready to take ownership of the aging Quebec Bridge… Continue reading

TC Energy applauds Nebraska court victory over opponents of Keystone XL pipeline

CALGARY — One of the last major hurdles for the Keystone XL… Continue reading

‘Our bigger enemy’: Trump escalates attack on Fed chief

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump launched a furious and highly personal attack… Continue reading

Ontario shipyard accuses feds of unfairly stacking deck in Davie’s favour

OTTAWA — An Ontario shipyard is accusing the federal government of trying… Continue reading

Most Read