AHS deploys neon yellow LRT trains in $700K opioid awareness campaign

Alberta Health Services has launched an aggressive advertising campaign to hammer home the idea that every person in the province can do something to end the ongoing opioid crisis.

'None of us are immune, and every one of us ... has the power to be part of the solution,' says Brandy Payne

Trains wrapped in neon advertising are meant to fight opioid crisis indifference among Albertans and will be seen running through Calgary and Edmonton until the end of March. (Francois Joly/CBC Radio-Canada)

Neon yellow LRT trains and bright pink posters are the latest weapons Alberta Health Services has deployed in the fight against the opioid crisis.

Enormous advertisements plastered with the words "You can't ignore opioids," and "Someone in your life could die from opioids," will begin popping up across the province as part of a nearly $700,000 advertising campaign developed by AHS and the provincial government.

The attention-grabbing billboards and train wraps are meant to encourage Albertans to learn about naloxone and other harm reduction measures so they can be prepared to support friends and family who use drugs.

An example of one of the ads that will be running in cities across Alberta, including Edmonton and Calgary. (Alberta Health Services)

The billboards will be going up on LRT trains, university campuses and more than 140 restaurants and bars in seven major markets across Alberta: Calgary, Edmonton, Fort McMurray, Grande Prairie, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat and Red Deer.

"Please don't ignore this. Don't look the other way. That's what this awareness campaign is about," said Associate Minister of Health Brandy Payne.

Payne said the campaign  "fights our natural indifference," and "urges us to pay attention, because any one of us may be able to save a life."

Fentanyl overdoses were the No. 1 cause of death of men between 20 and 29 in Alberta last year, outpacing fatal car crashes and suicides, Payne said.

"None of us are immune, and every one of us, every Albertan, has the power to be part of the solution," she said.

People who want to learn more about what an overdose looks like, how to administer naloxone, or what to do if they witness an overdose in progress can visit the website for more information.

The province is also targeting recreational and habitual drug users with its advertisements, urging them not to use alone and to take advantage of safe consumption sites or opioid dependency treatment clinics if possible. 

The campaign, which includes radio and online video ads, will run until the end of March.