An Alberta Commission has called for more harm reduction sites in the province (Gerein, 2018). The Government of Alberta released a new report on the level of deaths associated with opioid overdoses (Government of Alberta, 2018a). This has come alongside recommendations as well (Government of Alberta, 2018b).
Indigenous groups have been declaring emergencies in some of their communities due to the overdose crisis (Cameron, 2018). There have been interventions such as fentanyl tests, which have been shown to reduce the number of overdoses (Meuse, 2017).
Alberta’s supervised consumption sites should be permitted to offer drug testing to help users learn what dangers might be lurking in their illicit narcotics, the province’s opioid commission recommended Friday.
Some in the general public continue to question the efficacy of the fentanyl-sensing strips as well as associated devices to detect fentanyl. However, these devices help give insight into the contents of the about-to-be used drugs in the drug user community.
Elaine Hyshka, the Co-Chair of the Minister’s Opioid Emergency Response Commission, said, “Anytime you can give people a bit more understanding than absolutely none about what’s in their drugs, I think that’s a positive.”
Six consumption sites were approved for the province of Alberta with one opened in Calgary, in Lethbridge, and four in Edmonton to be opened. 562 Albertans have died from the fentanyl-related overdoses in 2017 alone.
The problem with fentanyl is that is continuing to show up in methamphetamine and heroin. The users, who may not even be regular misusers, can be caught unaware in a fentanyl overdose because their used substance has been inadvertently laced with fentanyl, potentially leading to an overdose and a death.
British Columbia and Ontario, two provinces with high death tolls associated with the opioid crisis. One prominent place that uses the fentanyl-sensing strips is Insite based in Vancouver. 80% of the substances, in the first year of testing at Insite, were found to contain fentanyl.
Those Insite clients with a positive result were an order of magnitude, 10 times, more probable to reduce the chances of an overdose.
A medical heath officer at Vancouver Coastal Health, Dr. Mark Lysyshyn, noted that the strips can falter in their prediction of fentanyl. In that, they are not foolproof. One other issue is the potential for the strips to be able to detect associated fentanyl substances such as carfentenil.
The first Alberta overdose prevention site opened for the Kainai First Nation in Southern Alberta. The Kainai First Nation declared the first state of emergency based on a recent spike overdoses there.
The site is open for eight hours per day. According to Gerein’s article, there are other recommendations:
- Ease restrictions for prescribing methadone and medical heroin, which are used as treatments for opioid use disorder.
- Organize a national conference in Edmonton in October to discuss drug policy and harm reduction.
- Approve a mobile supervised consumption site in Calgary.
- Open supervised consumption services in Medicine Hat, Red Deer and Grande Prairie.
- Develop guidelines around protective clothing and safety practices for workers who may come into contact with fentanyl.
- Expedite consumer protection legislation, to ensure people seeking mental health and addiction services receive proper care. (2018)
Cameron, E. (2018, March 9). Calgary applying to offer mobile supervised consumption services. Retrieved from http://www.metronews.ca/news/calgary/2018/03/09/calgary-applying-to-offer-mobile-supervised-consumption-services.html.
Gerein, K. (2018, March 9). Offer drug testing at safe consumption sites, Alberta opioid commission recommends. Retrieved from http://edmontonjournal.com/news/local-news/test-drugs-at-safe-consumption-sites-alberta-opioid-commission-recommends.
Government of Alberta. (2018b, February 14). Minister’s Opioid Emergency Response Commission Record of Discussion: February 14, 2018. Retrieved from https://www.alberta.ca/assets/documents/opioid-commission-minutes-february-2018.pdf.
Government of Alberta. (2018a, March 2). Opioids and Substances of Misuse Alberta Report, 2017 Q4. Retrieved from https://open.alberta.ca/dataset/1cfed7da-2690-42e7-97e9-da175d36f3d5/resource/78ceedbd-ddc9-4a33-834b-8668a3ad5b31/download/Opioids-Substances-Misuse-Report-2017-Q4.pdf.
Meuse, M. (2017, May 15). Insite fentanyl test reduces overdoses, study finds. Retrieved from http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/insite-fentanyl-testing-1.4115500.
St-Onge, J. (2018, March 9). Alberta commission recommends more overdose prevention sites across province. Retrieved from http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/alberta-opioid-overdose-commission-1.4570399.
(Last Update: September 28, 2016)
Scott Douglas Jacobsen researches and presents independent panels, papers, and posters, and with varied research labs and groups, and part-time in landscaping (lifting, mowing, and raking) and gardening (digging, planting, and weeding). He is the Founder of In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal and In-Sight Publishing. UCI Ethics Center awarded him with the distinction of Francisco Ayala Scholar (2014) for mentoring, presenting, researching, and writing. If you want to contact Scott, you may inquire or comment through e-mail: Scott.D.Jacobsen@Gmail.com.
He published in American Enterprise Institute, Annaborgia, Conatus News, Earth Skin & Eden, Fresh Start Recovery Centre, Gordon Neighbourhood House, Huffington Post, In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, Jolly Dragons, Kwantlen Polytechnic University Psychology Department, La Petite Mort, Learning Analytics Research Group, Lifespan Cognition Psychology Lab, Lost in Samara, Marijuana Party of Canada, MomMandy, Noesis: The Journal of the Mega Society, Piece of Mind, Production Mode, Synapse, TeenFinancial, The Peak, The Ubyssey, The Voice Magazine, Transformative Dialogues, Treasure Box Kids, Trusted Clothes.