The Rise of Fentanyl
There have been recent reports indicating that the drug fentanyl may be the cause of a spike in overdose related deaths across B.C. and Canada.
In December of 2015 the Vancouver police reported that fentanyl is the likely culprit of 17 overdoses and three drug-related deaths. According to the Coroners Service of B.C., 300 people across B.C. died from illegal drug overdoses last year, with an estimated 25% of these deaths involving fentanyl. And this problem is not isolated to B.C.; according to Alberta Health 120 people died last year after ingesting fentanyl and the Ontario’s chief coroner estimates that between 2005 and 2009 there were 210 deaths as a result of fentanyl overdoses.
The drug fentanyl has been found laced into a variety of illegal narcotics that are sold on the streets, particularly heroin and Oxycontin. According to news reports, the individuals at risk of ingesting this hidden drug are both heroin addicts and recreational drug users. In fact, most of the recent deaths involved individuals who were described as recreational drug users by their friends and families. The reason for this is that fentanyl is a highly potent drug that requires a certain level of tolerance for an individual to handle without overdosing.
Fentanyl is typically used as an anesthetic for surgery, or prescribed by doctors for pain management to patients who have taken another type of opioid before. The drug is approximately 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine and the difference between a dose that delivers a ‘high’ versus an ‘overdose’ is very small. This becomes particularly problematic when fentanyl is mixed in with recreational drugs, often without the users knowledge. Many individuals may not realize they are even taking fentanyl, and this lack of knowledge and awareness can be fatal.
We at the Be You Promise find these recent reports alarming and want to help in raising awareness about this significant public health problem. The Vancouver Coastal Health and other partners have started the Know Your Source Campaign to help educate intermittent drug users about the risks and dangers of fentanyl, as well as provide information about other potentially dangerous drugs.
An important reminder from these tragic deaths is that the drugs that can be bought on the streets are not safe. There is no regulation for what may be in the drugs and there is no guarantee that you are buying what you think you are buying. Furthermore, anyone is at risk of serious harm or injury when they decide to ingest these drugs. Whether you have decided to experiment for the first time, use drugs as a form of occasional recreation, or are a long-time regular drug use, the risk of overdosing or dying from street drugs is the same for everyone. So here at the Be You Promise we encourage you to make the safe choice and choose to say no to drugs. Take the Be You Promise and join us in working towards living a healthy, happy, and safe life and be the best you!