Image of medicine pills with words representing negative feelings printed on each of them -bored, anxious, pain, lonely.

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, as a member of the Community Drug Strategy Committee, works with support from the Alberta Government to support healthy lifestyles for the people we love.

The Committee is a group including Strathcona County Family and Community Services, former MLA Annie McKitrick, and the following local representatives:

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:

  • codeine
  • fentanyl
  • carfentanil 
  • oxycodone (oxy)
  • morphine
  • hydromorphine
  • heroin

Street names for opioids and other illegal drugs are many and varied. This list is not comprehensive but may help you if you are concerned someone you know may be using drugs. 

Street names for opioids and other drugs (113.3 KB)

The illegal use of fentanyl is part of the opioid crisis. Fentanyl is 100 times stronger than morphine and carfentanil is 100 times stronger than fentanyl. Opioids are sold or obtained illegally through methods including ordering online, manufacturing counterfeit pills (such as fake oxy) and reselling existing prescription pills. Fentanyl and carfentanil are often mixed with other drugs (such as heroin or cocaine) to increase drug potency or cut costs and increase profits.

Drug mixing and manufacturing can increase potency but without proper standards and procedures, the amount of each drug added can range drastically, increasing the risk of overdosing. Any medication or drug obtained illegally can be cross-contaminated with fentanyl and carfentanil 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.

Carrying a naloxone kit can save a life. Learn more about what to do during an overdose and how to use naloxone in case of an overdose.

The Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act applies to anyone seeking emergency help during an overdose.

Support and resources

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:

Opioids side effects

Using opioids can cause short-term side effects including:

  • drowsiness
  • constipation
  • 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


Making of Opioids don't discriminate: an interactive experience


Family and Community Services
Second floor, East Wing Community Centre
401 Festival Lane
Sherwood Park, AB T8A 5P7
Phone: 780-464-4044
Fax: 780-449-1220
Email: familyandcommunity@strathcona.ca

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Last updated: Thursday, October 08, 2020
Page ID: 50339