Pubdate: Thu, 01 Feb 2018
Source: Edmonton Journal (CN AB)
Copyright: 2018 The Edmonton Journal
Author: Elise Stolte
Page: A2


Edmonton is giving more naloxone kits to those who need them, but much
more work is required on the underlying drivers of the fentanyl and
opioid crisis.

That was the message left with city council after their quarterly
update Wednesday.

Dr. Chris Sikora, Alberta Health Services' medical officer of health,
Edmonton zone, said childhood trauma and social factors such as
poverty and a lack of housing leave people susceptible to addiction.
With fentanyl, those addictions are taking an even more tragic turn.

In just three months last year, 39 people died because fentanyl was
mixed into the drug they took. Despite getting more naloxone kits to
users and emergency workers, that death rate is staying the same.

"It's prevention, treatment, enforcement and harm-reduction. That's
the right approach," said Sikora, saying the only jurisdictions
getting a handle on this are places such as Portugal, where they've
heavily invested in treatment.

"We're early in that work."

Firefighters and emergency responders in Edmonton have naloxone kits,
which can deliver a life-saving drug to reverse an opioid overdose. As
well, police and now the city's peace officers have access to the
nasal spray, which can protect them and their colleagues if they are
inadvertently exposed.

Coun. Scott McKeen said at least this crisis has brought addictions
into the public consciousness, suggesting childhood trauma and poverty
make a fifth of the population susceptible to addiction.

Part of the answer should be managed opioid consumption programs
within a residential program, McKeen said.

Sikora said the Alberta Opioid Emergency Response Commission is
looking at that option.

 From the police, Insp. Shane Perka said his investigators are laying
charges and front-line officers are now treating every sudden death as
a potential drug investigation. Courts have increased sentences for
people convicted of trafficking fentanyl. "We're trying to keep up,"
he said.
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