Responding to the Opioid Crisis

The Calgary Drop-In Centre is exploring recovery-oriented services which can save lives. 

Here in Alberta and across Canada, the effects of the opioid crisis have had a devastating effect throughout our communities. Sadly, in 2021, 500 families in Calgary lost a loved one due to a suspected drug poisoning. While there has been a slight reduction in overall opioid related deaths across our province, we are still faced with an opioid crisis at our shelter and surrounding communities.

This is also the reality at the Calgary Drop-In Centre. Back in 2018, the DI responded to six drug poisonings a month. Fast-forward to 2022, and we are on track to see an average of 125 drug poisonings per month. That is about 4.25 drug poisonings per day.


The current approach of abstinence and reversals needs to change, as reactively responding to drug poisonings is not sustainable. With only 70 publicly funded detox beds available in Calgary, options are limited even for those who want to make a change.

Dedicated recovery-oriented programming is required to address the opioid crisis that presently overwhelms both our shelter and our community, and can provide relief and hope for those suffering directly and for the frontline staff who have provided the necessary emergency services throughout the crisis.

Services being explored as part of a recovery-oriented system of care.

Overdose Prevention

Withdrawal Management

Transitional and Recovery Beds

Harm Reduction Education

Community Outreach Support

The DI was approached by the Government of Alberta to consider offering recovery-oriented services. We recognized the benefit this could provide those we serve and wanted explore the potential of a full continuum of services such as overdose prevention, withdrawal management, recovery and transitional beds, harm reduction education, and community outreach support.



The new services would in theory be supported by doctors, nurses, and other peer and social supports. They could enhance the DI’s current services and would only be intended for those accessing the services of the DI.

Recovery-oriented services at the DI would be a small but important piece in improving community safety by addressing mental health and addictions challenges through providing pathways to recovery, treatment, and housing.

Community safety is a top priority for us. To help provide education around what this potential recovery-oriented system of care might look like and to begin a dialogue with our neighbours, we will be hosting multiple community information sessions throughout the month of July. During the course of those information sessions, the new East Village Safety Hub was announced as another measure towards community safety in the surrounding area.

“A partnership between CMLC, The City of Calgary, Calgary Police Service and the Alpha House Society’s Downtown Outreach Addictions Partnership (DOAP), the East Village Safety Hub provides social supports and uniformed officer presence to better respond to the neighbourhood’s evolving social needs.” To learn more about the Easy Village Safety Hub, please click here. 

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Want to learn more about recovery-oriented services? This list of articles, from a wide range of sources, helped to inform our decisions along the way.