The Alberta government announced a unique new partnership with the Lethbridge Police Service and the Blood Tribe Police. Those who are battling addiction now have access to addiction treatment once they are arrested. Alberta’s Virtual Dependency Program says that anyone who is arrested in Lethbridge or on the Blood Tribe will be able to access an addiction medicine physician. Lethbridge Chief of Police, Shahin Mehdizadeh, says this is a voluntary program and officers can also implement it on the streets.
“The next piece is also critical not only can we do it in our cell blocks, we can actually do it from our officers on the street and our Watch program. We can actually promote and encourage people to take advantage of this program. People don’t need to be arrested for us to help them to get them to that treatment that they deserve. We can do it both when they’re in our custody and also people we deal with on the street to get them to the right treatment program they deserve.”
The Alberta government says approximately 70 per cent of opioid-related deaths in our province occur in private residences, often among those using opioids or other substances while alone.
The Digital Overdose Response System (DORS), a mobile app designed to prevent fatal overdoses among Albertans using opioids and other substances, is now available for download and use by anyone in southern Alberta.
The app can be downloaded to a smartphone free of charge from any app store or via DORSApp.ca. When using the app, Albertans will receive a call from the STARS emergency centre if they become unresponsive to a timer. If an overdose is suspected, STARS will immediately dispatch emergency medical services to the person’s location.