Fentanyl Facts: What you need to know about the drug showing up in Canadian cities

Fentanyl is all over the news right now. It seems that there is a new report every day about an overdose, an arrest or a large amount seized on its way to Canadian cities. Fentanyl is a synthetic opiate typically used to treat severe and chronic pain. It is often prescribed to cancer patients. With so much buzz and so many news stories, it can be confusing to wade through the information, so here are some quick facts about Fentanyl and it’s use in Canada.

  1. 1. It’s strong and fast:

Fentanyl is 50-100 times more toxic than morphine and 100 times more potent than heroin. Its so strong that as little as two milligrams can cause an overdose. After ingestion it can reach your brain within minutes and cause respiratory failure. Many of the reported deaths have happened this way; someone takes half a pill, falls asleep and they never wake up.

  1. 2. It’s often cut into other drugs:

Fentanyl has been found in many other drugs like heroin, cocaine and oxycodone. In fact, buyers often think they’re buying Oxy when they’re really getting Fentanyl. The drug has no smell or taste, and you can’t see it so there is no way to tell if other drugs have been laced with it.

  1. 3. It’s addictive:

Just like any other opiod, Fentanyl is extremely addictive. Many users report craving it after just one use. And like many drugs, users often build up a tolerance. They have to use more and more to get the same high, which is very dangerous with such a toxic drug.

  1. 4. People are dying:

When an amount about the size of two grains of salt can cause an overdose, it’s not surprising that people are dying. Especially when users don’t always know that their drugs contain Fentanyl. Even when you do know, you might be getting street Fentanyl. This is non-regulated and non-pharmaceutical, meaning that it was probably created by a dealer somewhere. The toxicity levels are rarely accurate and the drug is often combined with caffeine, meth or heroin so you really don`t know what you’re getting. Thus far in 2015, there have been 145 deaths connected to Fentanyl in Alberta and 66 in British Columbia. And it is both recreational and long-term users that are dying.

Of course, we don`t encourage recreational drug use in any way, but we want everyone to be especially careful with Fentanyl. The risk of overdose it too large. If you are using Fentanyl or know someone who is, please seek help. While we can`t speak for everyone, we find that opiod use is rarely recreational, and is often a sign of a deeper problem. Drugs and alcohol can take over your life so quickly and once they do, each time you use is a risk. When you seek help, make sure you find a place that you can safely and medically detox under the supervision of a doctor. Our phone lines are always open if you need to talk about opiod abuse or just want more information. 1-800-683-0111

Look for a more in-depth article about Fentanyl in our upcoming fall issue of Phoenix Magazine. Subscribe here: http://www.edgewood.ca/e-subscriptions