The opioid epidemic is taking lives and abolishing families across Edmonton and the province of Alberta. According to the Canada Health Information Base, a total of 1,883 opioid related deaths occurred from January of 2022 to March of 2022. This would calculate to 21 opioid deaths per day. In 2022, from January to March, 90% of all opioid deaths occurred in British Columbia, Alberta, or Ontario.
More or less, every individual in Edmonton has been affected by addiction to some extent. Whether it be through a personal experience, a friend or family member, or someone you know, the opioid epidemic has brought detrimental harm to people all across Edmonton and the rest of Alberta.
Over half of drug-related deaths occurred at the victim’s home, 25% in other inside residences, and 15% took place outside on streets, parks, or in vehicles.
More fentanyl overdoses are arising as a result of cross-contamination of drugs. In 2020, about 83% of drug-related deaths in Alberta had the presence of fentanyl in the victim’s system, in addition to other substances.
Opioids, like fentanyl, morphine, oxycodone, and hydromorphone; are medications that help relieve pain. However, opioids are also available illegally. Illegal opioids are any opioids that are made, shared, or sold illegally. The most common forms are; Codeine, Oxycodone, Methadone, Hydromorphone, and Fentanyl.
Opioids can be pharmaceutical-grade and prescribed by physicians and surgeons. Prescription opioids can end up for illegal sale on the street. These can be “cut: or tainted with other compounds, including fentanyl.
Fentanyl is a very strong, odourless, and tasteless synthetic narcotic. Fentanyl is about 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine. Non-illicit fentanyl is typically prescribed to control severe pain.
Illicitly manufactured fentanyl is being imported, mixed with other drugs, and illegally sold in either pill form (face oxycodone and other club drugs) or powder form (heroin or fentanyl) and powder form mixed into other drugs (Example: Cocaine, Crystal Meth, etc.)
3 or 4 grains of fentanyl are enough to kill an average adult.
Carfentanil is a fentanyl analogue and opioid drug 10,000 times more potent than morphine and 100 times more potent than fentanyl. It is not licensed for use in humans but is meant to sedate large animals under strict safety conditions, such as elephants.
1 grain can kill an adult
Signs of a Fentanyl or Carfentanil Overdose
Breathing is slow or not breathing at all
Blue nails and/or lips
Choking or throwing up
Making gurgling sounds
Skin is cold and clammy
Won’t wake up
Fentanyl overdoses can happen if you take:
- An opioid not prescribed for you
- More opioids than prescribed to you (higher dose than prescribed)
- An opioid with alcohol or other drugs (Ex., Anxiety medication, muscle relaxants, or
- sleeping pills)
- An opioid that has been tampered with (Ex. Broken or crushed)
- Illegally produced or obtained
- If you have stopped taking opioids for a while and started using them again, you can be
- at risk of an overdose because your body is not used to the drug anymore.
If you suspect an opioid overdose, you should:
- Call 9-1-1 (or your local emergency helpline) and stay at the scene
- Give naloxone, if you have it.
- Know that the Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act protects you from simple drug
- possession charges
Signs of Opioid Addiction:
- Change in activities; loss of interest in things that were important before.
- Drop in school or work performance; skips or is late to school or work.
- Changes in habits at home; loss of interest in family and family activities
- Difficulty in paying attention; forgetfulness
- Lack of motivation, energy, self-esteem, and discipline. Bored, “I don’t care” attitude.
- Defensiveness, temper tantrums, resentful behaviour (everything’s a hassle)
- Unexplained moodiness, irritability, or nervousness
- Violent temper or bizarre behaviour
- Unexplained silliness or giddiness
- Paranoia – overly suspicious
- Excessive need for privacy; keeps the door locked or closed, won’t let people in.
- Secretive or suspicious behaviour
- Car accidents, fender benders, household accidents
- Chronic dishonesty; trouble with the police.
- Unexplained need for money; can’t explain where their money goes; stealing.
- Unusual effort to cover arms, and legs.
- Change in personal grooming habits
- Possession of drug paraphernalia
How Opiates Affect the Brain
Both humans and animals have opiate receptors in the brain. These receptors act as active sites for different types of opiates, such as heroin and morphine. The reason the brain has these receptor sites is because of the existence of endogenous (internal) neurotransmitters that act on these rector sites and produce responses in the body that are similar to those of opiate drugs.
Opiates and opioids work by binding to specific receptors in the brain, mimicking the effects of pain-relieving chemicals that are produced naturally. These drugs bind to opiate receptors in the brain, spinal cord, and other locations in the body. This blocks the perception of pain. Opiates can cause feelings of well-being, but they can also cause side effects such as nausea, confusion, and drowsiness.
In addition to relieving pain, opiates can lead to feelings of euphoria. While these druga are often very effective in treating pain, people can eventually develop a tolerance, so they require higher doses to achieve the same effects.
Finding the right intervention specialist for your loved one can make the difference between success and failure. A successful intervention can change your loved one’s life. You owe it to them to try to do whatever it takes to get them the help that they so desperately need.
When most people search online for interventionist teams, they use the search term “interventionists near me” which can lead to results that are not necessarily appropriate for your specific circumstances.
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