Although it sounds cliché by now, fentanyl use and overdose deaths have reached epidemic levels in Canada. In British Columbia, opioid-related death rates far outnumbered other provinces, with 23.8 deaths per 100,000 people in BC alone from January-March of 2019. For reference, Ontario had 12.7 deaths and Alberta had 14.6. The amount of opioid deaths from fentanyl are climbing year over year and rehab centres in Vancouver have been seeing more cases of fentanyl addiction and overdose. In 2019, 79% of opioid-related deaths were attributed to fentanyl—an increase from 73% and 67% in 2018 and 2017, respectively. Fentanyl is killing so many Canadians because of its potency; it is an opioid painkiller used to treat advanced cancer pain. However, many people die from a fentanyl overdose without knowing they ingested it in the first place, as it is often mixed with other drugs. While we want fentanyl addiction and overdose to no longer exist, in the mean time, here are five key things to know about fentanyl so you can stay safe.
(1) It’s Fast and Deadly
Fentanyl is 50 to 100 times more lethal than morphine and 100 times stronger than heroin. A deadly dose is as little as two milligrams. When ingested, fentanyl can reach your brain within five minutes; it then slows a person’s breathing rate until they no longer have enough oxygen to live. Many of the reported deaths have happened this way: someone takes half a pill, or ingests it unintentionally, falls asleep and never wakes up.
(2) It’s Highly Addictive
Many users report craving fentanyl after just one use. Some people who use fentanyl will steal patches from family members who are prescribed the drug for their pain. They might also pressure a loved one to get more prescriptions from their doctor. Like other opioids, people who use fentanyl build a tolerance. These people need to use more and more to get the same high, which is very dangerous for a drug where trace amounts can be deadly.
(3) It’s Often Cut into Other Drugs
Fentanyl has been found in many other drugs like heroin, cocaine, and oxycodone. Often, people who think they’re buying oxycodone will really be getting fentanyl, which is much stronger. There are many speculated reasons why fentanyl is finding its way into other drugs, but we know for certain that it is making less lethal drugs far more deadly. To make matters worse, fentanyl has no odour, taste, or colour, so using a testing kit is the only way you can tell if it’s in your drugs.
(4) It Kills a Lot of Canadians
Given that you can overdose on an amount the size of two grains of salt, it’s not surprising that people are dying. Since it is so powerful and cheap to produce, street fentanyl is increasingly made by amateur chemists and dealers; these non-regulated producers do not standardize dosing or control for impurities or toxicity. Dealers combine fentanyl with caffeine, meth, or heroin, all of which increase the probability of an adverse reaction or overdose.
(5) Whiterock Can Help You Detox, Stop Using, and Stay Safe
One of EHN Canada’s BC rehab facilities, Whiterock is a state-of-the-art facility that serves BC with a wide range of drug and alcohol addiction treatment options. Located only 40 minutes away from downtown Vancouver, Whiterock offers addiction treatment programs including detox, short-term residential, partial hospitalization, and intensive outpatient treatment. The sooner you get treatment for addiction, the less chance you have of falling victim to the dangers of fentanyl.
Reducing Harm from Fentanyl
You can reduce the risks of fentanyl overdose in a few ways: by testing your other drugs with a kit that tests for fentanyl, by keeping a naloxone kit on hand (available at your local pharmacy) and by never doing drugs alone. However, the only way to be completely safe is to stop using street drugs altogether. That’s where we can help you.
Drugs use puts you in constant danger of fentanyl contamination or overdose. At Whiterock, our rehab center in Surrey, we can help you end substance use, get your life back, and help you stay healthy. We offer medically supervised withdrawal management that helps you get off drugs quickly, comfortably, and, most of all, safely with doctor supervision and withdrawal medications.
We Can Help You
If you would like to learn more about the treatment programs offered by EHN Canada, or if you have any questions about addiction or mental health, please call us at one of the numbers below. Our phone lines are open 24/7—so you can call us anytime.
1-800-387-6198 for Bellwood Health Services in Toronto, ON
1-800-683-0111 for Edgewood Treatment Centre in Nanaimo, BC
1-888-488-2611 for Clinique Nouveau Depart in Montreal, QC
1-888-767-3955 for Whiterock EHN Canada in Surrey, BC