The Opioid Crisis in Canada: Calgary’s Record-Breaking Year

Calgary faced a record-breaking year in opioid-related deaths in 2019, with devastating impacts highlighting the city's struggles in the crisis.

The Opioid Crisis in Canada: A Look at Calgary’s Record-Breaking Year

A Crisis in Numbers

As the opioid crisis halts the entire world, Calgary continues to wrestle with its devastating impacts. The year 2019 marked an unprecedented number of opioid-related overdose deaths in the city’s history. The escalating numbers are a grim reminder of the confluence of factors feeding the opioid crisis and their pervasive consequences.

The Overview of the Calgary Opioid Crisis

More than 50,000 doses of naloxone, an opioid-overdose antidote, have been handed out in Alberta, which could conceivably paint an alarming picture of the crises’ breadth. In 2019 alone, Alberta Health Services reported a total of 775 opioid overdose deaths, a grotesque milestone that systematically continues to compound social and health-related issues in Calgary and beyond.

Compounding Effects on Crime and Homelessness

The opioid crisis in Calgary is closely tied to the increase in crime rates and homelessness. The unrelenting demand for opioids fuels an underground market that engenders violence, theft, and other illicit activities to fund drug abuse. Moreover, the opioid crisis continues to orchestrate increasing homelessness as people suffering from addiction struggle to hold jobs or maintain stable housing, leading to adverse social and economic impacts on Calgary’s community fabric.

Increased Funding for Addiction Treatment and Supports

Seeing the opioids crisis’s magnitude, resources are being redirected to addiction treatment and support programs. The Government of Alberta has committed an additional $140 million over the next four years for mental health and addiction treatment and improved access to critical medical and social support. This allocation would help provide much-needed beds in detox programs besides expanding access to naloxone kits and overdose prevention sites.

The Canadian Opioid Abatement Class Action

Simultaneously, at the national level, a Canadian opioid abatement class-action lawsuit is pushing for increased accountability from opioid-manufacturing companies. The class action further pushes companies to take responsibility for their failure to warn patients and physicians of their products’ addictive potential, seeking financial resources to combat the crisis.

Key Points

  • The scope of Calgary’s opioid crisis in 2019 was record-breaking, plaguing the city and the province.
  • Naloxone, the opioid overdose antidote, has been distributed in substantial quantities, underlying the crisis’s gravity.
  • Increasing crime rates and homelessness in Calgary are associated effects of the crisis, exposing the socio-economic implications.
  • Alberta’s government has committed to increasing funding for addiction treatments and support programs.
  • A class-action lawsuit at the national level calls for manufacturing companies to admit their failure and contribute financially to address the crisis.

The Road Ahead

As we navigate into the uncharted waters of the opioid crisis, Calgary’s ongoing plight serves as a distressing signal of our collective need to confront and counter this public health epidemic. Dealing with the opioid crisis necessitates a comprehensive approach that considers all of its causative and correlated factors. The crisis in Calgary is not just about opioids—it’s about crime, it’s about homelessness, it’s about healthcare, and it’s about societal responsibility.

Calgary’s experience provides a sobering view of the opioid crisis’s devastating capacity and lays a foundation for understanding potential solutions. Implementing strategic interventions—ranging from increased community-centric therapies concentrated on harm reduction, robust public health initiatives, supportive housing programs, improving access to naloxone—significantly lessening the impact of this crisis is possible.

As the struggles continue, so do the steps to overcome them, with initiatives at both provincial and national levels, to make positive strides against the opioid crisis in Calgary and across Canada. The journey won’t be easy, but it’s a fight we must undertake—for our communities, our cities, and our nation.


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