LETHBRIDGE, AB – Accidental opioid overdoses took the lives of 42 people in Lethbridge in the first 10 months of 2020.

New data released by the province Friday shows a total of 46 substance deaths (any substance) between January and October.

Of the opioid-related deaths, 40 were from non-pharmaceutical opioids, with seven linked to pharmaceutical opioids.

Non-pharmaceutical opioids are considered to be fentanyl and its related drugs, as well as heroin, while pharmaceuticals are typically prescribed opioids like codeine, hydromorphone, and methadone.

The data comes from the new Alberta Substance Use Surveillance System, which will include monthly updates and replace the previously released quarterly reports. It includes more detailed information as well.

June, July, and August had the highest number of accidental opioid overdoses with nine, six, and seven respectively.

Lethbridge has the highest fatal opioid death rate of major municipalities at 50.9 per 100,000 person-years, while the provincial average is 24.3.

Province-wide, Premier Jason Kenney says the data shows that the COVID-19 pandemic is having a serious impact on people struggling with substance use. However, he notes drug fatality numbers have been trending down since July when more deaths were recorded than in any other month in the province’s history.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is not the only public health crisis in Alberta. Thousands of Albertans continue to battle mental health and addictions issues, often times made more difficult by public health measures, and Alberta’s government is firmly committed to being there to help them recover.”

Albertans struggling with addiction can contact the Addiction Helpline at 1-866-332-2322 for support, information, and referral to services. The toll-free, confidential helpline operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week.