Calgary·The Way Out

We looked at some of the ways out of addiction in Alberta. Read what we discovered

CBC Calgary explored the people and the policymakers searching for the way out of addiction in Alberta.

Learn more about the people and the policymakers searching for solutions

A small package with labels showing fentanyl in red and heroin in blue. The substance inside of the package has turned red.
The Calgary Police Service tests drugs to see what is circulating in the community. After several tests, the package shows the presence of fentanyl. (James Young/CBC)
A banner reads, 'The Way Out: Addiction in Alberta.'

CBC Calgary launched a week-long series February 6 exploring the people and the policymakers searching for The Way Out of Addiction in Alberta.

It explored recovery, harm reduction and access to safe supply. It also told the stories of the people impacted.

As we told these stories, we sought to open a conversation in the community, collecting your insight and personal experiences through an online form. That form is now closed, but we welcome feedback and suggestions anytime by email at

We are working to summarize the comments to reflect what we heard publicly and will publish that here. We'll also share details with the rest of the CBC Calgary newsroom so it can inform our ongoing coverage.

If you missed any part of our series, please find the links to each article below.

OPINION: Stop polarizing the debate. It took both harm reduction and drug treatment to save me

A man holds onto a large stack of books focused on treatment for drug and alcohol addiction.
Chris McBain, who was once addicted to crystal meth, says both the opportunity to receive treatment and access to harm reduction services saved his life. (Submitted by Chris McBain)

A fierce debate rages between drug treatment and harm reduction advocates in Alberta.

But that misses the point, argues Chris McBain, a former injection drug user. In this opinion piece, he says he needed both to get his life back.

How a group of Indigenous people in Alberta found their way out of addiction through culture

How Robbie Daniels is using his culture to find a way out of addiction

4 months ago
Duration 2:12
For Robbie Daniels, the way out of addiction meant learning more about his culture. He's a member of the Stoney Nakoda First Nation west of Calgary. Growing up, he knew very little about drumming and singing, but he says it's what's helped him find his way out of addiction.

Robbie Daniels is one of several people behind Sobercrew Calgary, a group of mainly Indigenous people who've found a way out of their addiction through culture and sobriety. 

They lean on each other for support and also find ways to help others, whether it's through drumming or a kind conversation.

Why some men in the trades are dying of opioid overdoses

After years of struggling with addiction, Mike is finding his way out

4 months ago
Duration 1:38
Mike is an equipment operator who is recovering from an addiction to drugs. He's now living at the Simon House Recovery Centre, a treatment facility in Calgary. CBC News is not using his full name as he fears telling his story could impact future employment.

Three out of four people who die of overdoses in Alberta are men, according to provincial statistics. In 2017, the province reviewed all opioid-related deaths and found that of those with occupations listed, 53 per cent had employment in trades, transport or equipment operation.

A Health Canada campaign, which drew data from provincial reports in Alberta, B.C. and Ontario also indicates that about 30 to 50 per cent of those employed at the time of their death, were employed in trades.

What's inside the drugs circulating Calgary? We visited the city police testing lab to find out

What we know about the drugs being sold in Calgary

4 months ago
Duration 3:20
The Calgary Police Service describes what they're finding in drugs seized in the Calgary community. One of the officers' voices has been altered as he’s undercover.

For the past two years in Alberta, at least four people a day, on average, have died from overdosing on illicit drugs, according to provincial statistics.

And the drugs aren't hard to access. It's about five dollars for what's considered one hit of fentanyl or meth. 

But without a test, you can't be sure what you're getting. And overdoses happen fast.

Why an Alberta lawyer is pushing back on part of the province's new addictions strategy

A closeup of a lawyer wearing glasses and a blue jacket.
Lawyer Avnish Nanda, who is representing the plaintiffs pro bono, says the loss of treatment will have deadly consequences. (Sam Martin/CBC)

The provincial government has changed the rules around who can prescribe high-potency, short-acting opioids like hydromorphone.

So 21-year-old Ophelia Black has sued the province. Her lawyer is Avnish Nanda.

Once homeless and addicted to drugs, the premier's chief of staff leads the province's opioid response

Marshall Smith explains why he wants to build recovery communities across Alberta

4 months ago
Duration 3:36
Marshall Smith is Alberta Premier Danielle Smith’s chief of staff and the architect of a fundamental shift in how Alberta intends to address opioid addiction and treatment in the province.

Alberta wants to become the Canadian epicentre of the treatment and recovery movement. And the man behind the movement is Marshall Smith.

Once addicted to drugs and homeless, he now has the ear of politicians across the country.

Calgary woman sues province to maintain access to drug she says has saved her from overdose

A woman stands in her kitchen in a black robe holding a prescription opioid kit, including sanitizing wipes, bottles and needles.
Ophelia Black was prescribed a high-potency opioid to help with severe opioid use disorder. (Judy Aldous/CBC)

A 21-year-old Calgary woman is suing the Alberta government to maintain access to her prescription for a high-potency opioid, which she says has saved her from overdosing on street drugs.