Fentanyl-related deaths are starting to slow down in the Alberta including Red Deer after two years of steady increases.
According to the Minister’s Opioid Emergency Response Commission, the number of fentanyl-related deaths this year total 228 in Alberta. Of those 228 deaths, 66 of them were related to carfentanil.
Alberta Health released its interim second quarter report on Thursday, reporting the number of fatalities from Jan. 1 to May 6.
Stacey Carmichael, Turning Point executive director, said they had two reported fentanyl-related overdose deaths. That’s down from nine in May.
“Red Deer is still, from the first quarter report, number one in Alberta per capita,” said Carmichael. “Through it all, it has been an upward trend and hopefully we can slow it down drastically. Otherwise we’ll be really shocked at the end of this year.”
The quarterly reports offer more detail on where the deaths have taken place than the interim reports. In the first quarter report, Red Deer had a rate of 37.3 deaths per 100,000 people, ahead of both Calgary and Edmonton.
In the interim report, the Central Zone reported 24 deaths, with a rate of 14.2 deaths per 100,000 people.
Turning Point is continuing its work towards bringing a supervised consumption site to Red Deer. The location of the site is still the main issue.
“We’re spending more time sitting with Alberta Health Services, Alberta Health and the city and working towards some solutions,” said Carmichael. “I’m pretty optimistic that we will eventually come up with something.”
Location was the key issue at city council, as council voted to limit the location of a permanent SCS to the Red Deer Regional Hospital and a mobile SCS unit to either the hospital parking lot or Safe Harbour Society.
Dr. Karen Grimsrud, co-chair of the Minister’s Opioid Emergency Response Commission, said that while progress is being made, there is still a lot of work to do.
“Although the most recent data suggests the number of fentanyl deaths may be plateauing since the beginning of the year, it’s really too early to tell if that trend will continue.” said Dr. Grimsrud.
The commission estimates about 3,600 lives have been saved because of its naloxone distribution program.
The commission’s mandate was extended until November 2019 by the provincial government.