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Fentanyl: Fighting the Crisis Together

Last year between January 1st and November 11th Fentanyl took the lives of 582 Albertans. That is an increase of 119 people per year since 2017. Calgary, our home city, had the highest number of deaths. 271 Calgarians lost their lives to fentanyl between January and November.

These sobering statistics speak for themselves, but we want to take the time to inform our community about this crisis, how it is affecting the program participants, employees, and volunteers at the Calgary Dream Centre, and what you can do to help us make sure no one else loses their life because of fentanyl.

What is Fentanyl?

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is one hundred times stronger than morphine. Only one or two micrograms can mean the difference between life and death. This extremely potent substance is increasingly being found mixed in with other street drugs, which means that many people are overdosing on fentanyl without even knowing they have taken it.

One Public Health Service publication reported that 88% of opioid related deaths in 2016 were accidental or unintentional. This speaks to the dangers of today’s drug culture.

What We Are Doing to Help

Our first experience with fentanyl at the Calgary Dream Centre occurred in 2015 when one of our guests overdosed and tragically lost their life. Since then, this epidemic has only grown. Today, almost every individual who enters our recovery program has used fentanyl either intentionally or unintentionally.

Ending the fentanyl crisis depends on all of us stepping up and doing our part. That is why we are working with the government and other service providers to help stop fentanyl from claiming another life.

To prevent another tragedy, the Calgary Dream Centre has implemented an alert system, and will now provide naloxone kits on each floor. Naloxone is a synthetic drug that is used to block opioid receptors, temporarily counteracting the effects of fentanyl overdose until emergency medical care can be provided.

Our drug testing facility now includes fentanyl screening, and we now ensure that all staff and program participants are provided with the most up-to-date information on fentanyl and its effects.

We also conduct practice drills to keep our staff on alert, with some members of our team able to race up 6 flights of stairs, the top of our building, in 36 seconds!

The need to help individuals with addictions find full and lasting recovery has never been more urgent.

What Can I Do To Help?

For more information on naloxone, and where you can you pick up a free kit without having to provide ID or a prescription, please visit the Alberta Health Services website. To learn how to administer naloxone, please view Alberta Health Service’s Take Home Naloxone Kit Training guide.

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  • Chris Sciberras

    Written by Chris Sciberras

    Director of Program and Mental Health Clinician Chris is a Registered Provisional Psychologist with a Masters of Counselling from the University of Calgary and a Bachelors of Counselling from the Australian College of Applied Psychology. For the past decade, he has worked extensively with youth, adults, and families in a variety of capacities, with a focus on mental well-being and addiction recovery. Chris has served as the Mental Health Clinician and Program Director at the Calgary Dream Centre since 2017. Prior to joining the Dream Centre, Chris worked in the school system as a Mental Health Counsellor. Chris is passionate about supporting clients at the Dream Centre and helping them along their path of recovery. Chris is originally from Australia, has travelled to over 30 countries, and now happily calls Calgary home.

    More Articles by Chris Sciberras

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