Alberta RCMP are warning the public that street drugs are not always what they seem.

There were 1,262 opioid-related deaths in Alberta just from January to August 2023, which is up by 255 compared to the same time period last year.

RCMP say from January to November of this year, they responded to double the drug overdoses than in all of 2022.

Many of those appear to be tied to the dangerous practice of cutting fentanyl in order to create a cheaper high.

Fentanyl is being mixed with other substances that are easier and cheaper to access. 

A side effect of this mixing is that it reduces the effectiveness of naloxone, meaning more doses are needed to save someone’s life, if it works at all.
RCMP in the province also saw a 24 percent increase in the number of naloxone deployments in 2023.

They're issuing a warning to the public, reminding them that street drugs are not always what they appear to be. 

Drugs marketed as fentanyl (sometimes pink, blue, red, purple or containing a mixture of these colours) may in fact be a mixture of unknown potency and characteristics, making a user’s "normal dose" potentially more dangerous. 

The Alberta RCMP remind the public that the signs of a fentanyl overdose include slow, irregular and shallow breathing, pinpoint pupils, muscle stiffness, seizures and unconsciousness.

Alberta RCMP also want to remind the public of these safe practices to follow if you are going to use illicit drugs:

  • Avoid using while alone.
  • Ask someone to check on you or use while on the phone with a trusted person able to call for assistance in the event of an overdose.  
  • Know the signs and symptoms of poisoning/overdose and call 911 for direction and support.  
  • Carry a naloxone kit and know how to use it to respond to a suspected opioid poisoning/overdose.
  • Consider using the Digital Overdose Response System app when consuming drugs.

For anyone seeking help, the Virtual Opioid Dependency Program can assist members of the public who struggle with addiction issues and wish to safely change their life habits and live healthy lives. 

This service also offers information to family and friends. For more information, you can contact the addiction helpline at 1-866-332-2322. There you will be able to access information on opioid dependency, treatment and access to support and resources.

The RCMP continues to work collaboratively with other law enforcement agencies to keep both domestic production and importation of fentanyl out of our communities. 

In response to Canada's Online News Act and Meta (Facebook and Instagram) removing access to local news from their platforms, HighRiverOnline and OkotoksOnline encourage you to get your news directly from your trusted source by bookmarking this page and downloading the HighRiverOnline or OkotoksOnline app.