Fentanyl use in Alberta is continuing to be a public health crisis, last year there were 274 deaths from Fentanyl in Alberta, and from January 1 to March 31, 2016 there were 69 fentanyl related deaths in Alberta.
Of these 69 deaths, 27 were in the Calgary Zone, which includes Cochrane.
Spencer Schneider, Manager of the Cochrane Addiction and Mental Health Clinic says the clinic has been answering more questions about fentanyl than ever.
"In general the clinic is busier, but that is across all issues and concerns.” He says. “Specific to fentanyl and opioid we're not seeing a huge spike, maybe a slight increase. What we have noticed though is that we have been getting more calls from the public about opioid abuse, specifically fentanyl.”
Many of the individuals calling are concerned family members, and people asking where they can obtain Naloxone Kits, which reverses the effects of Fentanyl and can prevent overdoses.
Martin Schiavetta, Calgary Police Service Staff Sergeant says the availability of fentanyl, which can be 100 times more potent than morphine, is on the rise.
“Fentanyl is a very profitable drug and organized crime has recognized that,” he says. “In our province, including in Cochrane we have a high demand for opioids. As a result of that we have a lot of abuse in our communities which has created a public health crisis.”
Schiavetta adds this is not a trend, Fentanyl is here to stay until the abuse, and crime involved with it is worked on from a number of different avenues.
“We're not going to arrest our way out the problem, we need to restrict access to illicit fentanyl, and collectively lower the demand for illicit drugs including fentanyl. We have to increase capacity to deal with treatment and rehabilitation. If we don't do those three things this is going to continue to have negative impact on our communities.”
You can obtain a Naloxone kit for free at a pharmacy in town, or at the Cochrane Community Health Centre.
If you or a loved one is suffering from fentanyl addiction call the Cochrane Addiction and Mental Health Clinic at 403-851-6100, walk-ins are available as well.