Strathcona County has seen almost 20 opioid related deaths in five years.
According to recent statistics presented at the 'Opioids Don’t Discriminate: An Interactive Experience' exhibit, 73 per cent of opioid-related emergency room visits were by those aged 15-34.
From 2013 to 2017, there were 11 deaths related to fentanyl, seven deaths due to non-fentanyl opioids and 12 deaths related to non-opioid drugs and alcohol.
"It's our crisis as much as anybody else in this province," said Bree Claude, director of Strathcona County Family and Community Services. "We very much are keeping in stride, sadly, with the rest of our province and country, unfortunately."
From 2013 to 2017, there were 573 emergency department visits made to Strathcona County hospitals by residents for opioid and other substance misuse.
In that time, the number of people who used Opioid Agonist Therapy (OAT) rose by 76 per cent. OAT helps those addicted stabilize their lives and reduce the harms related to drug use.
Strathcona Community Hospital opened a new clinic in 2017, providing medication-assisted treatment and counseling to people struggling with opioid use.
"If you look nationally in Canada, we do tend to prescribe opioids more than other countries around the world," added Claude.
In Alberta (2017), 59 per cent of people who died from an accidental opioid overdose had it dispensed from a pharmacy within 30 days of their death. In Canada, there were over 8000 opioid related deaths between January and March of 2018.