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Health

Opioid-related death count up to more than 11,500 nationally: government data

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OTTAWA — Canada’s opioid crisis claimed the lives of more than 11,500 people between January 2016 and December 2018, the Public Health Agency of Canada reported Thursday.

New data shows that 4,460 people died in 2018 alone and many of these deaths were related to the contamination of the illegal drug supply, the agency said.

The federal health agency said an analysis of national trends suggests there was a significant increase in death rates between January 2016 and June 2017, noting the rates then stayed high from July 2017 to December 2018.

It also said Western Canada remains the most affected region of the country.

The epidemic remains the most challenging public-health crisis in decades, said the co-chairs of federal government’s advisory committee on the epidemic of opioid overdoses, chief public-health officer Dr. Theresa Tam and Saskatchewan chief medical-health officer Dr. Saqib Shahab.

Fentanyl and other fentanyl-related substances continue to be a major driver of the crisis, they added.

Fentanyl is an opioid more potent than heroin or morphine, often cut with fillers and then passed off as its less-powerful cousins because it’s easier to transport and hide. People who use illegal drugs often can’t know exactly what they’ve bought and a tiny excess dose can be fatal.

“There is still much work to be done to abate the opioid crisis, and Canadians can be assured that addressing it remains our priority,” Tam and Shahab said in a joint statement.

Numbers on opioid overdoses take a long time to extract from sources like hospital records because they aren’t always tracked in easily comparable ways and people who suffer them often have other serious health problems. It’s only now, almost halfway into 2019, that the public-health agency has been able to compile figures through to the end of last year.

Even so, the 11,577 deaths since January 2016 are qualified as “apparent opioid-related overdoses.” According to the health agency, most of the people who have died also had other potentially harmful substances in their systems, such as alcohol, cocaine or methamphetamines.

As the death toll climbs, the federal government has faced pressure from health advocates to allow for a safe supply of opioids to be made available to people suffering from addiction so they do not have to turn to a toxic street supply.

There has also been a push to decriminalize simple possession, including by Liberal MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith, who is putting forward a private member’s bill proposing the removal of penalties for simple possession of drugs from the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.

Earlier this week, the House of Commons health committee issued a report urging the federal government to look at Portugal’s decriminalization of simple possession and examine how the idea could be “positively applied in Canada.”

It made the recommendation, among others, in a report produced after committee members travelled across Canada to witness the impacts of methamphetamine use.

Witnesses who appeared before the committee called for the federal government to work with provinces, territories, municipalities, Indigenous communities and law-enforcement agencies to decriminalize simple possession of small quantities of illicit substances, the report said.

The Conservatives on the health committee issued a dissenting report saying that several other things need to be done before decriminalization, pointing out a number of differences between Canada and Portugal. They say Canada needs better drug-treatment programs and more public education about drugs.

Kristy Kirkup, The Canadian Press


Community

Scott: Healthier weight while taking anti-psychotic meds

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photo of Scott

This story was originally published on the PCN website in May 2018.  

Scott: Healthier weight while taking anti-psychotic meds

My health issue is schizophrenia and the side effects associated with the anti-psychotic medication I take. I had a conversation with my family doctor about the bariatrics clinic at the hospital and he assessed my obesity and referred me to the Health Basics course. I had hoped to get control of my body weight because I have had chronic pain, injuries, and intense frustration with my physical abilities.

A major barrier to my mental concentration was the lack of structure regarding my knowledge around health. I had been advised to control my eating by family and friends but I felt that my weight would naturally sort itself out if I could just get my medications decreased. I had previously connected with a dietitian through AHS however I could not keep a food journal or make adjustments that she recommended.

In the Health Basics program, I committed to the group therapy process and began journaling for the first time. I increased the proportion of fruits and vegetables in my diet. I now plan snacks and focus on “in-control” eating. Further, I practice the 80/20 rule regarding the Healthy Road vs. Easy Street and this keeps my spirits up when I slack off. I simply remind myself that I can make a better choice in any moment to “save the day”.

The last I weighed myself, I had dropped fourteen pounds and my waist was quite a bit smaller. I am getting comments about my physique. I am working through the side effects of my medication with gratitude for the treatment team that helps me, and I am overall noticing less symptoms of depression. In addition, I am maintaining my active lifestyle and achieving the high level of performance that I demand from myself.

I recommend anyone needing weight loss and a healthier lifestyle to take the Health Basics course and attend and participate for yourself AND the others in the group. Make your nutrition a priority because I believe “you are what you eat”. Find a career that forces you to exercise at a high intensity. One big motivator to me is that I need to start a family and I believe that I can have more fun in life with a body that I am happy with.

I am on track to continue to be healthy. I eat enough fruits and vegetables. I continue to journal my food intake. I drink water as my main beverage. I stretch daily. I make my soccer referee job the priority in my career. I am currently participating in the sleep course at the PCN to make sure that I am improving other areas of my health as well.

Here are some other stories from Primary Care Network:

Finally the dam broke

Achieving Mental Health is an Everyday Task

About the Red Deer Primary Care Network

We (RDPCN) are a partnership between Family Doctors and Alberta Health Services. Health professionals such as psychologists, social workers, nurses and pharmacist work in clinics alongside family doctors.

In addition, programs and groups are offered at the RDPCN central location. This improves access to care, health promotion, chronic disease management and coordination of care.  RDPCN is proud of the patient care offered, the effective programs it has designed and the work it does with partners in health care and the community.

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Community

Finally the dam broke

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Donna was getting counselling from the Red Deer PCN Mental Health program. She had lived with an alcoholic husband for thirty some years and then lost him and 6 other family and friends within a 4 month period about 5 years ago. Over the years she had always stuffed her feelings inside so had never dealt with her struggles or her grief.

Her counsellor suggested that she attend the Journeying through Grief program. On the first day she attended the program she felt very uncomfortable. Others were visually grieving and she was not. Why? She didn’t feel she needed to be there or that it would help her so she talked to the instructor about it at the end of class. The instructor suggested that she continue to attend as it can take some time to work though.

When on week 4 program participants were asked to write a letter to their loved one, the dam broke for her. She realized that she needed to forgive her husband for all those years of challenging her and to family to navigate through the frustration and hardship of living with an alcoholic. Without forgiving him, she could never move forward to grieve. Donna is so glad that she continued the course as without it there would have been no change to her outlook and her ability to move life forward.

Donna states,” I enjoyed the program immensely!” She went on to take the Happiness Basics and The Moving on with Chronic Pain program from the Red Deer PCN.

She invited a friend who had also lost her husband to attend these with her. Donna says that “Instead of only dwelling on the frustration and emotional pain I had suffered, I am now able to even think back to some happy times my family had. These amazing courses have made a big difference to my life.”

About the Red Deer Primary Care Network

We (RDPCN) are a partnership between Family Doctors and Alberta Health Services. Health professionals such as psychologists, social workers, nurses and pharmacist work in clinics alongside family doctors.

In addition, programs and groups are offered at the RDPCN central location. This improves access to care, health promotion, chronic disease management and coordination of care.  RDPCN is proud of the patient care offered, the effective programs it has designed and the work it does with partners in health care and the community.

Continue Reading

november, 2019

tue19nov1:00 pm3:00 pmDiabetes Discussion Drop In1:00 pm - 3:00 pm

thu21novAll Daysun24Festival of Trees(All Day)

thu21nov6:00 pm11:00 pmFestival of Trees - Preview Dinner6:00 pm - 11:00 pm MST Westerner Park, 4847A-19 Street

fri22nov8:00 pm11:00 pmFestival of Wines8:00 pm - 11:00 pm MST Westerner Park, 4847A-19 Street

sat23nov9:00 am12:00 pmFestival Family Bingo - 1st time ever!9:00 am - 12:00 pm MST Westerner Park, 4847A-19 Street

sat23nov6:00 pm11:00 pmMistletoe Magic !6:00 pm - 11:00 pm MST Westerner Park, 4847A-19 Street

sat23nov8:00 pmRed Deer Nov 23 - Calgary's THIRD CHAMBER - EP release show "Harvesting Our Decay"8:00 pm

sun24nov9:00 am12:00 pmBreakfast with Santa9:00 am - 12:00 pm MST Westerner Park, 4847A-19 Street

mon25nov1:30 am2:30 pmPlanning A Calmer Christmas1:30 am - 2:30 pm

mon25nov6:30 pm8:30 pmRustic Succulent Box WorkshopUnique Workshop to create Succulent Box6:30 pm - 8:30 pm

tue26nov1:00 pm3:00 pmDiabetes Discussion Drop InDiabetes Discussion Drop In1:00 pm - 3:00 pm

thu28nov7:30 pm11:00 pmA special Christmas Musical Event at The KrossingBig Hank's Tribute to the Blues Songs of Christmas7:30 pm - 11:00 pm MST The Krossing, 5114 48 Avenue

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