On June 4, more than 140 local experts from across a range of sectors including government, health, law enforcement, and social services, gathered to probe deeply into the impacts of substance misuse in our city and explore potential preventative initiatives that are complimentary to existing treatments.
Hosted by Alberta Health Services, Calgary Police Service, and United Way of Calgary and Area, the focus of the Calgary Symposium on Substance Misuse is to further build out a community response to address root causes of substance misuse and the opioid crisis.
“We know that factors such as poverty, unemployment, social isolation, domestic violence, and mental health issues increase an individual’s risk of substance misuse,” says Karen Young, President and CEO of United Way and Calgary Area. “Getting to the underlying causes, with a focus on prevention, is critical to disrupting the domino chain reaction that continues to gain momentum in our city.”
In 2017, 733 people died of accidental opioid overdose in Alberta. That’s the equivalent of two people every day. In the first quarter of 2018, the Calgary Zone (75) and Edmonton Zone (46) had the highest numbers of fentanyl deaths. The Calgary Zone continues to have the highest rate per 1,000 persons at 18.1.
“More people died as a result of an overdose in Calgary in 2017, than traffic fatalities and homicides combined,” says Chief Constable Roger Chaffin, Calgary Police Service. “We simply can’t arrest our way out of this problem. As police, our role is not to criminalize addiction, but to ensure vulnerable people are not being preyed on by those seeking to fund criminal activities. Calgarians need support to address the root causes of addiction, a complex social issue that cannot be solved in isolation.”
Today marked the beginning of bringing people together to solve this complex issue. Through platforms like the symposium, we can mobilize action and work together to address the critical issue of substance misuse in our community.