Alberta’s First Nations: Leading the Fight Against the Opioid Crisis

Alberta First Nations’ Successful Efforts to Curtail The Opioid Crisis

How Alberta’s First Nations Communities are Successfully Combating the Opioid Crisis

Canada’s longstanding battle with the opioid crisis has taken a significant toll on our communities, especially indigenous communities. However, Alberta’s First Nations communities have successfully implemented strategies to tackle this crisis, showcasing exemplary resilience and innovation. This article by Jason Herring of The Globe and Mail looks at how Alberta’s First Nations are leading the way in the war against drug trafficking and mitigating the opioid crisis.

Unveiling the Situation: The Opioid Crisis in Alberta’s First Nations

The year 2020 saw an unprecedented increase in opioid-related fatalities, primarily due to the compounding effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The crisis left no community unscathed, but Alberta’s First Nations were disproportionately affected, experiencing a rate of opioid-linked deaths three times higher than the rest of the province.

“We Hit It Hard”: Alberta First Nations Tackling Opioid Crisis

As the opioid crisis continued to rip through Alberta’s First Nations communities, a comprehensive and significant response arose. This response was not a one-size-fits-all prescription but involved varying approaches tailored to each community’s unique situation. Large-scale opioid class-action lawsuits, crime reduction measures, and a focus on indigenous rights and sovereignty were all instrumental parts of this response.

Key Strategies in Forging the Way Out of the Crisis

The strategies that Alberta’s First Nations have employed to fry the bigger fish can provide a template for other communities grappling with the opioid crisis. Here are some key points:

  • Addressing the root causes: The communities undertook significant efforts to address the underlying social and structural issues that contribute to substance misuse, such as homelessness and poverty.
  • Crime reduction initiatives: The Blood Tribe Police Service implemented strategic crime reduction measures that significantly curbed drug trafficking.
  • Fostering community involvement: First Nations communities engaged in advocacy and awareness programs, empowering people with knowledge about opioids and the risks associated.
  • Legal actions: First Nations leaders adopted a holistic approach by pursuing opioid class-action lawsuits against major pharmaceutical companies.
  • Utilizing Naloxone Kits: The communities increased availability and awareness of naloxone kits significantly, which can reverse the effects of opioid overdoses.

Measuring Success

How can we evaluate the success of these efforts? By comparing the overdose data from the Alberta government and the input of the community. In January 2020, there were 79 opioid-related calls in First Nations communities, this dropped to 9 in December. The Blood Tribe Police Service noted a marked reduction in crime, especially drug trafficking. The comprehensive approach of the communities appears to be paying off.

Key Takeaways

The unrelenting opioid crisis has revealed the inherent resilience and resourcefulness of Alberta’s First Nations communities. By harnessing their sovereignty and rights to create multi-dimensional and community-based solutions, these communities have managed to significantly reduce crime and opioid-related fatalities. Their strategies, though diverse and specific to each community, provide a blueprint for other communities navigating similar struggles.

While the crisis is far from over, Alberta’s First Nations have proven that they are more than capable of working towards a solution to end the opioid crisis. It is clear that a holistic, community-centric approach that combines advocacy, crime reduction, and legal actions could be our most promising avenue towards curbing the opioid crisis once and for all.

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