Photo by Alexander Popov
It's an unnerving time to be part of the nightlife scene. Doctors have seen fentanyl related deaths increase by over 75 per cent, accounting for a disturbing 53 per cent of all opioid overdose deaths in Canada. Fentanyl is cheap, accessible and easy to synthesize with street drugs, which makes it appealing to drug dealers looking to increase profit margins.
Whatever your reservations about illicit drug use, fentanyl poisoning from street drugs is a looming issue that has become hard to ignore. Furthermore, its threat extends beyond street drug users.
Fentanyl is an opioid used in hospitals as pain medication or in combination with other medications for anesthesia. Fentanyl packs a punch 100 times stronger than morphine, and its properties enable it to be quickly absorbed by the body.
In 2016, British Columbia's Ministry of Public Safety officially declared fentanyl poisoning in street drugs had launched a drug safety and public health crisis in Canada. For the past two years, there has been a chilling increase in the presence of Fentanyl in street drugs including heroin, ecstasy, cocaine and MDMA. Vice Media reported that in Vancouver, Fentanyl is believed to replace heroin in many cases.
For the most part, avoiding street drugs should keep you clear from fentanyl poisoning. But recent developments suggest even cautionary abstinence may not provide absolute insurance against fentanyl poisoning. In November 2016, liquid fentanyl was found for the first time in Ontario's illicit drug market. This discovery was troubling because liquid fentanyl can be used as a type of date-rape drug. It's odourless, tasteless and can be put into drinks or quickly absorbed by the skin (cringe).
If you and your friends are frequenters of concerts, raves or clubs - party smart. Pharmacies across Ontario now offer free Naloxone kits, which we encourage you to pick up. Naloxone works by blocking the effects of opioids and prevents fentanyl overdose. Even if you don't experiment with drugs yourself, having a Naloxone kit tucked away in your purse or pocket could save the life of a friend or a fellow club goer.
No one wants to have a friend become a statistic, or worse become a statistic themselves. These kits are relatively compact and completely free, so why not make moves to ensure you and your friends are safe?