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New detox center the first of its kind for an Alberta First Nation

Health officials hope that a new detox and treatment facility – the first of its kind for an Alberta First Nation – will slow the rate of overdose deaths on the Blood Tribe.

A ribbon cutter for the new 12-bed, 24-hour facility was held Monday.

In the past two weeks there have been 22 overdoses – one of them fatal – on the First Nation with a population of about 12,000. Last year there were 335 overdoses.

Jacen Abery, head of the emergency services, said his staff would normally take an overdose of patients to an emergency residue outside the reserve.

Jacen Abery, head of the emergency services, cuts to the new safe removal facility at the Blood Tribe (Reid Southwick / CBC)

"They buy some drugs and return them to the town house where they are staying." They split that, then we still have four overdoses, "Abery said, adding that patients are now being treated in the new facility where they can access suboxone or methadone.

Dr. Esther Tailfeathers said that after the patients are stable, they will go through that treatment and hopefully help those who are trapped in a cycle of addiction.

"We hope this helps us break that cycle and what is the need for patients to get help the social services, treatment services, all the things they need, and to get them the most out of their withdrawal, "she said.

The newly opened facility may already be looking for expansion, possibly with the addition of still eight beds next month.

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