Tackling the opioid crisis
A large part of society still rejects the fact that drug use and addiction are health issues. Several studies indicate stigma as one the of the main reasons people avoid treatment and support. Strathcona County has partnered with the Community Drug Strategy Committee with support from the Alberta Government to support healthy lifestyles for the people we love. Join us from November 5-9 for the event, Opioids Don't Discriminate: An Interactive Experience.
The Committee is a local group of representatives from Strathcona County Family and Community Services, Alberta Health Services, Alberta Health, Strathcona County Library, Salvation Army, Sherwood Park Primary Care Network, Saffron Centre, RCMP, Elk Island Public Schools, Elk Island Catholic Schools, Children's Services, Chimo Youth Retreat Centre, Hope in Strathcona, Sherwood Park Alliance Church and MLA Annie McKitrick.
What are opioids?
Opioids are medication used mainly to treat pain. They are often prescribed by doctors for short- and long-term moderate to severe pain, and can slow down heart rate and breathing. Opioids can be prescribed as pills, syrups, nasal sprays, skin patches, suppositories and liquid injections. Types of opioids include:
- oxycodone (oxy)
The illegal use of fentanyl is part of the opioid crisis. Fentanyl is 100 times stronger than morphine and is sold or obtained illegally through methods including online ordering, manufacturing counterfeit pills (fake oxy) and reselling existing prescription pills. Fentanyl is often mixed with other drugs to increase drug potency or cut costs and increase profits.
Without proper standards and procedures, the dose of fentanyl in pills can't be guaranteed and can range drastically from pill to pill, increasing a person's risk of overdosing. Fentanyl mixed with other drugs including heroin and cocaine can increase potency and also increase the risk of overdosing. Any medication or drug obtained illegally can be cross-contaminated with fentanyl simply from touching pills or sharing surfaces.
If an overdose happens
Call 9-1-1 if you are or someone you know is experiencing overdose symptoms:
- breathing slows or stops
- nails and/or lips turn blue
- choking or throwing up
- gurgling sounds
- skin is cold and clammy
- feeling like you’re going to pass out
- can’t wake up the person.
Canada’s Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act provides some legal protection for people who experience or witness an overdose and call for help.
The Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act applies to anyone seeking emergency help during an overdose.
Support and resources
- View the Opioid Statistics in Strathcona County.pdf (196.7 KB)
- View the Strathcona County opioid and drug use environmental scan (586.9 KB)
- View the Strathcona County social profile (168.9 KB)
- Watch the National Geographic videos on the science of addiction and how opioids impact the brain
If you are or someone you know is using opioids, there is support. The Strathcona Community Hospital has a public clinic offering opioid dependency treatment.
It is important to remember women who are using methadone can still get pregnant. Babies can be born with an opioid addiction or experience life-threatening withdrawal symptoms when women use opioids during pregnancy.
Learn more about:
- Treatment clinics available in Alberta
- Opioid dependency programs
- How to talk to teens
- Methadone use
- Methadone use in women
- Alberta treatment centres for First Nations and Inuit
- Supervised consumption sites
- How to get a Naloxone kit
Opioids side effects
Using opioids can cause short-term side effects including:
- impotence in men
- nausea and vomiting
- euphoria (feeling high)
- difficulty breathing, which can lead to or worsen sleep apnea
- headaches, dizziness and confusion, which can lead to falls and fractures
Long-term effects may include:
- increased tolerance
- substance misuse or dependence
- liver damage
- infertility in women
- worsening pain (opioid-induced hyperalgesia)
- life-threatening withdrawal symptoms in babies born to mothers taking opioids