More than 1,400 Albertans died from drug-poisoning deaths in 2022: provincial data

While there were more drug-poisoning deaths in Alberta until December last year than in 2020, deaths remain lower than 2021’s record-breaking 1,842.

According to the latest data released by the province, 366 Albertans died from drug poisoning deaths between Sept. 1 and Nov. 30, 2022, bringing the year’s total to 1,443, with only December’s data outstanding.

Of the 366 new deaths, 116 occurred in September, 127 in October, and 123 in November. All but four per cent of the fatalities involved opioids.

According to the Alberta Substance Use Surveillance System (ASUSS), 114 of the deaths were in Calgary, 149 were in Edmonton, while the other 103 were in other parts of the province.


December’s data has not been released, but without it added to the total, 2022 had more deaths with 1,443 than the 1,387 in 2020 meaning it could become the year with the second-highest number of drug-related deaths on record.

The year 2021 had the highest number of deaths at 1,842, which on average is five deaths a day.


The majority of people who died in Alberta of drug poisoning in 2022 were men between the ages of 30 to 44, the data shows, making up a third of the total.

More specifically, those aged 35 to 39 had the highest number of deaths with 182, or 13 per cent.

Five of the deaths were children and adolescents aged 14 years or younger.

Just over 73 per cent of the deaths were male, while 26.7 per cent were female.


In quarter three of 2022, the majority (47 percent) of unintentional opioid-poisoning deaths in Alberta occurred inside of people’s homes.

The second most common location was in public (25 per cent), defined as a non-secure location accessible to others, according to the province’s data system.

In the same quarter, the number of deaths in Edmonton in public areas was higher at 33 per cent. That is the largest percentage of fatalities Edmonton has recorded happening in public places, the same percentage seen in quarter three of 2021. In Calgary 26 per cent of opioid-related deaths were in public.


Based on the data from 762 deaths in 2022, 81 per cent of the deaths involved Fentanyl. Methamphetamine was involved in 51 per cent, while Carfentanil was found in 28 per cent.

Compared to 2019, based on 802 deaths, 64 per cent involved Fentanyl, 39 per cent involved Methamphetamine and only 7 per cent involved Carfentanil.


The number of opioid-related events EMS responded to in Alberta went down in 2022 compared to the year prior, making it the year with the second-highest number of events to date. The province had 7,051 events in 2022, or a 15 per cent decrease from 2021.

Edmonton had 741 fewer calls in 2022 than in 2021, while Calgary saw a reduction of 347.

Last year, Edmonton had nearly double the amount of EMS events than Calgary despite having a smaller population. Forty-nine per cent of Alberta’s EMS events were in the city of Edmonton, compared to 25 per cent in Calgary. The other 26 per cent occurred elsewhere in Alberta.


The number of emergency department visits related to substance use across the province in 2022 is lower than in both 2021 and 2020 when taking only the first three quarters of the year into account.

Three years ago there were almost 54,000 visits in the first nine months of the year. In 2021 slightly more than 57,000 visits were recorded and in 2022 there were justover 51,000 in the same time period.

In the first three quarters of 2022, the Edmonton zone and the Calgary zone both had a 31 per cent share of the province’s emergency department visits together making up 62 per cent.

Of the 51,546 emergency department visits in Alberta related to substance use in 2022, 17 per cent involved opioids.

A government spokesperson for Mental Health and Addictions says that ASUSS is updated as data becomes available and that the remaining data for 2022 will likely be available in the early spring.

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