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Alberta doctors call for more drug use sites to reduce strain on acute care resources

Click to play video: 'Edmonton doctors form opioid response committee to address spike in overdoses' Edmonton doctors form opioid response committee to address spike in overdoses
As the number of Albertans dying from drug overdoses continues to climb, nine doctors are forming a new opioid poisoning committee, including urban, rural and Indigenous physicians. Chris Chacon reports – Sep 9, 2021

A group of Edmonton physicians says the Alberta government’s overhaul of harm reduction supports for people who use drugs is needlessly straining acute care resources as COVID-19 demands grow.

Read more: Edmonton doctors form opioid response committee to address spiking overdoses

Members of the Edmonton Zone Medical Staff Association‘s opioid poisoning committee have penned a letter to Premier Jason Kenney, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and other health and addictions officials.

It calls for emergency action to address the drug poisoning crisis.

Click to play video: 'Opioid overdoses adding to Alberta ICU pressure' Opioid overdoses adding to Alberta ICU pressure
Opioid overdoses adding to Alberta ICU pressure – Sep 25, 2021

The association says communities do not have adequate resources to respond to spiking drug overdoses, so people who face adverse reactions are needing help from first responders, emergency departments and intensive care units more often.

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Read more: Edmonton opioid crisis: Daily deaths, overdoses overwhelming social services and health-care system

Under Kenney’s leadership, the province has limited access to a life-saving opioid dependency program and supervised drug-use sites.

The group is recommending two emergency actions: expanding access to injectable opioid agonist treatment programs, and bolstering supervised consumption and overdose prevention services.

Click to play video: 'Edmonton opioid crisis: The impact on people and the health-care system' Edmonton opioid crisis: The impact on people and the health-care system
Edmonton opioid crisis: The impact on people and the health-care system – Aug 25, 2021

More than 145 people and 18 organizations from across Canada — including the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition, Moms Stop the Harm and Protect Our Province Alberta — have signed the letter in support.

“We know that Alberta’s current approach to the drug poisoning crisis unnecessarily strains acute care resources and is directly contributing to an rising number of deaths,” the letter says.

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“In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, the above emergency policy actions are life-saving not only for people who use drugs, but for all Albertans in need of intensive care.”

Click to play video: 'COVID-19: Alberta intensive care units reach historic capacity, according to AHS CEO' COVID-19: Alberta intensive care units reach historic capacity, according to AHS CEO
COVID-19: Alberta intensive care units reach historic capacity, according to AHS CEO – Sep 23, 2021

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