Drug overdose deaths in Alberta continue to increase dramatically this year over 2020, with addictions experts pointing to a spike in fatalities involving potent carfentanil. In the first five months of 2021, drug overdoses claimed 624 Albertans, an increase of 41 per cent over the 442 people who died in the same time frame the previous year. Of those fatalities, 85 per cent involved fentanyl. In the first part of 2021, carfentanil — an analog of the synthetic opioid analgesic fentanyl and 100 times more potent — figured in 19 per cent of those deaths, up from seven per cent in 2020, according to statistics released Tuesday by the Alberta government. The numbers so far this year suggest the province is on track to exceed the worst year for opioid deaths — 2020 — when 1,316 fatalities were recorded. Ghosh noted that those doing drugs alone can contact the National Overdose Response Service at 1-888-688-6677 which dispatches emergency crews when overdoses become apparent during the call.