Hi there! Today while I was at a client’s place where I was alerted to an article in our local newspaper. Apparently, we are in a drug crisis (2016 end to current time) with people dying because their illicit drugs — ranging from marijuana to heroine — have been laced with the opiate called Fentanyl.
What is Fentanyl?
According to Wikipedia:
“Fentanyl, also known as fentanil, is an opioidpain medication with a rapid onset and short duration of action. It is a potent agonist of μ-opioid receptors in the brain. Fentanyl is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine, but some fentanyl analogues, which are designed to mimic the pharmacological effects of the original drug, may be as much as 10,000 times more potent than morphine.
Where does it come from?
According to the Globe and Mail:
“The supply chain for illicit fentanyl begins in China, but the problems Canada is experiencing start right here at home: No other country in the world consumes more prescription opioids on a per-capita basis, according to a recent United Nations report. “
Apparently the drug is shipped in containers weighing less than 30 mg so that the packages will not be opened at our boarders. The drug is cheap and the smugglers have no problem shipping the drug into Canada.
“The investigation also found that online suppliers are exploiting gaps at the border. Fentanyl and many chemically similar drugs are classified as controlled substances in Canada, making them illegal to import without a licence or permit. But, for online suppliers, the borders may as well not exist; they devise clever ways to conceal the drugs and skirt inspection rules. Suppliers often ship drugs in packages under the 30-gram threshold, ensuring border agents won’t open them. One supplier with whom a Globe reporter corresponded promised to ship fentanyl inside a gift-wrapped package. Another pledged, “No problem of police coming to you,” as the package would be labelled household detergent, complete with a certificate of analysis. Many suppliers will even offer guaranteed reshipment to customers in the event their package gets intercepted.
Drug crisis is spreading across Canada:
“In British Columbia and Alberta, the two hardest-hit provinces, fatal overdoses linked to fentanyl soared from 42 in 2012 to 418 in 2015.”
In Winter 2012, 2 men in Montreal were shipping Fentanyl throughout North America in hollowed out appliances using UPS. https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/investigations/a-killer-high-how-canada-got-addicted-tofentanyl/article29570025/
In November 2016 Hamilton news headlines read: “Fentanyl Liquid Found in Hamilton. From the same article it written:
“With the increasing prevalence of illicit drugs in more concentrated forms and the increasing danger from potential overdoses of a variety of drugs, ongoing investigative, safe handling and awareness training is crucial to keeping the community safe. Fentanyl in a liquid form is new to law enforcement agencies.
Hamilton Police is asking for the assistance of our community to come forward. Call police if you know or suspect any person in your area that may be manufacturing, trafficking or possessing any Fentanyl or other drugs.
Anyone with information who wish to remain anonymous are being asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or submit your tips online at http://crimestoppershamilton.com”
In December 2016 an illegal lab in Quebec was discovered. An article from CBC news wrote the following:
“After running tests, police confirmed a one kilogram mixture found in the lab contained fentanyl and the anti-anxiety medication Xanax.
Police also found two presses used to turn the powder mixture in capsules.
“These drugs were produced by amateurs who were improvising, in unsanitary conditions, with chemicals that are explosive and harmful to health,” said police in a news release.”
How did we get to this crisis point?
According to the CBC:
“The federal government has acknowledged the threat. In November, Health Minister Jane Philpott, along with many of her provincial and territorial counterparts, jointly committed to respond to “a serious and growing opioid crisis,” including an Opioid Action Plan in 2017.”
“Juurlink, who is on a steering committee to change the guidelines for prescribing opioids in Canada, says a massive increase in prescriptions for narcotic painkillers that started 20 years ago paved the way for today’s fentanyl and carfentanil crisis.”
“Opioids, including morphine, OxyContin and fentanyl, work by binding to receptors on cells in the brain and spinal cord, blocking the perception of pain. But up until the mid-1990s, Juurlink said, they were usually prescribed only for acute pain (such as a broken bone), pain caused by cancer or for palliative care.”
“That attitude changed when medical students and doctors were told that opioids could also be used to treat chronic pain, and that the risk of addiction for their patients was low.”
Fentanyl is very addictive.
According to the same aforementioned article:
“I can’t tell you how many people I’ve looked after over the years who say, ‘I’ve tried quitting, I just can’t do it,'” said Juurlink, an internal medicine physician. “Imagine the worst flu you’ve ever had, multiply it by 20 and you are miserable.”
“Desperate people turned to the streets to get their hands on whatever opioids they could to avoid those withdrawal symptoms, he said — and that option was often heroin.”
“The “sheer enormity of the market” of people addicted to opioids has led drug dealers to maximize their heroin supplies as much as they can, Juurlink said, and that’s where fentanyl — and more recently, carfentanil — come in.”
“Fentanyl is cheap and “incredibly potent,” so drug dealers add it to heroin to multiply the effects and increase their profits, he said. But because “quality control isn’t exactly their thing,” how much fentanyl they add varies widely, and even a tiny bit too much kills.”
Is there an antidote or treatment?
According to the Globe and Mail:
“Even if new guidelines were introduced, there are still not enough resources, nationally, to treat addiction. More beds are needed for those going through withdrawal as well as treatment programs for people addicted to painkillers, especially for aboriginals and those living in remote areas.”
“And as the pipeline for black-market drugs leads to an unprecedented surge in deaths, Canada has been slow to make naloxone more widely available. Last month, Health Canada changed the status of naloxone to a non-prescription drug. But before it can be sold without a prescription, each province and territory needs to approve the loosened restrictions – something that is not expected to happen until June or July in several regions.”
Only a little bit of Fentanyl can lead to a killer high. A drug called naloxone can combat the overdose within minutes. But having naloxone on hand isn’t on the mind of most users or an option for most as it is just being approved now as a non-prescription dug– but meanwhile people are dying to get high.
Talk at you later — Share if you care! Always — V’Ron