Pubdate: Fri, 18 Aug 2017
Source: Fort McMurray Today (CN AB)
Copyright: 2017 Fort McMurray Today
Author: Cullen Bird
Page: A5


Halfway through 2017, Fort McMurray is already nearing its year-end
total for fentanyl overdose deaths last year, according to an Alberta
Health report released Wednesday.

A total of eight people have died from fentanyl overdoses in the first
six months of 2017, compared to nine fentanyl overdose deaths over the
whole of 2016. The report, Opioids and Substances of Misuse, shows
that in the second quarter of 2017, a total of 119 people died in
Alberta from apparent fentanyl-related drug overdoses, compared to 85
overdoses over the same period in 2016.

In the first half of 2017, Fort McMurray had the second-highest rate
of fentanyl-related overdose deaths in the province, at 19.9 per
100,000 person years*. Grande Prairie had the highest rate, at 23.4
per 100,000 person years.

"The first line of defense is probably destigmatizing drug use and
being able to speak to loved ones and speak to youth about drug use in
a very open way that focuses on meeting the individual where they're
at instead of putting judgment on youth," said Melissa Byers,
executive director of HIV North.

Having Naloxone kits and knowing how to use them can also save victims
from opioid overdoses, including fentanyl overdoses. The drug can
reverse the effects of an opioid overdose for a short time, as long as
it is administered immediately and the victim receives emergency care
soon afterwards. Naloxone does not require a prescription and is
provided free at pharmacies, but training is required to properly
administer the drug to an overdose victim.

The Fort McMurray branch of HIV North - located at the Redpoll Centre
in Shell Place on MacDonald Island - provides Naloxone kits and
on-the-spot training in how to use them. The office welcomes walk-ins,
said Melissa Schiltroth, overdose prevention nurse at HIV North.

Pharmacies across Fort McMurray offer Naloxone kits for free, but most
of the time they do not have enough time to provide any training.

"We would recommend that they come to the Redpoll Centre," Schiltroth

The kits and training are available from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday
to Friday.

Last month an RCMP officer saved a Janvier resident's life with a
Naloxone kit.

All RCMP officers in the Wood Buffalo area carry Naloxone

Schiltroth said she HIV North can also provide training for
organizations wishing to learn how to administer the kits.

*Note: According to the Michigan Centre for Public Health Preparedness, 
person time is a measurement combining the number of people and their 
time contribution in a study, often used in calculating incidence rates.
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MAP posted-by: Matt