HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Lethbridge OD Spike Watched Closely In The Hat
Pubdate: Thu, 01 Mar 2018
Source: Medicine Hat News (CN AB)
Copyright: 2018 Alberta Newspaper Group, Inc.
Author: Gillian Slade
Page: A3


The significant spike in illicit drug overdoses in Lethbridge has not
reached Medicine Hat - yet.

There is no way to predict that it will or when, said Insp. Tim
McGough, Medicine Hat Police Service.

Lethbridge recently experienced its largest spike in overdoses - 16
cases - ever recorded in a 24-hour period. There were 42 overdose
calls to first responders in the week after Feb. 19.

"We've had no specific overdose spike (in Medicine Hat) but we are
always concerned with illicit usage." said McGough.

The supply route for drugs into Medicine Hat typically comes from
Calgary as opposed to Lethbridge. However, a major methamphetamine
seizure in January came from Lethbridge and indirectly from Surrey,
B.C., said McGough.

The nasal spray antidote Narcan was administered to 32 people in 2017
in Medicine Hat by first responders, he explained.

"This year so far we've done it five times," said McGough. "We do have
an opiate issue in Medicine Hat, and it needs to be dealt with through
education and maybe an expansion of substance abuse and addiction programs."

Lethbridge issued a warning to drug users that there is no way to know
the exact content of an illicit drug purchase and what the
consequences could be.

At the Medicine Hat Recovery Centre they are hearing from more and
more people who have absorbed that message. "We have clients coming
. indicating that because of the crisis they are frightened for
their lives," said Debbie Vass, manager Medicine Hat Recovery Centre.

Clients have also reported personal experience with

"They are frightened that the next one nobody will be able to save
them. We're hearing that more and more," said Vass.

Media attention and messages from health services have highlighted the
risk, and that has had an impact on drug users, said Rita Duren,
Alberta Health Services director of addiction and mental health
services for Medicine Hat.

Those who seek treatment for addiction still require a lot of support
and have a long road ahead for recovery, said Vass. Just detoxing does
not mean they will not use drugs again.

The use of Naloxone as an antidote is also being taught in education
programs during recovery programs, and participants take a kit with
them. The kits are also offered to family members, friends and persons
supporting the individual with the addiction, said Vass.

The idea that a Naloxone kit provides "comfort", allowing someone to
risk overdose because they have a Naloxone kit is simply not true,
said Vass. On the contrary, she say it is an excellent harm reduction
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