Blood Tribe overdoses up 86 per cent in 2018: Report

The Calgary Herald

January 6, 2019

Zach Laing: The Calgary Herald

Opioid overdoses on the Blood reserve increased 86 per cent between 2017 and 2018, according to recent report by health officials.

The Blood Tribe Health Department reported 335 overdoses in 2018, a significant jump from the 180 reported in 2017.

It shows an alarming trend for the first nation in the midst of fighting an epidemic of overdoses, as carfentanil — a synthetic opioid 100 times more potent than fentanyl — has flooded the reserve.

There has been a significant spike in overdose numbers for the tribe since 2014, when only 30 overdoses were reported.

The report shows that November 2018 was the worst month since tracking started in 2014, with 59 overdoses reported. That dipped to 40 in December.

The dip comes on the heels of a provincial funding announcement of $2.2 million over two years for a recovery program on the Blood reserve.

Under the program, Blood Tribe paramedics will have the option of transporting overdose patients directly to a treatment site where they can recover and receive resources and programs to help them get clean.

Kevin Cowan, chief executive of the Blood Tribe Health Department, said the announcement left him “speechless” and believes the program will have a significant positive effect on the community.

“This will make a huge difference for us here — having those paramedics on 24-7 providing a service to people that simply weren’t getting that service,” he said.

The AMA advances patient-centered, quality care by advocating for and supporting physician leadership and wellness.