Around 40 parents and youth attended a recent community street drug trends presentation at Fox Run School.
Organized by the Sylvan Lake RCMP the presentation aimed to equip parents with skills to allow recognition of street drugs and the paraphernalia associated with drug use.
Sylvan Lake RCMP School Resource Officer, Constable Michael Lee in partnership with Constable Kevin Lintott of the Organized Crime and Intelligence Unit out of the RCMP’s Red Deer City Detachment provided information to parents on various street drugs including cocaine, heroine, marijuana, methamphetamine and MDMA. In addition, the officers also touched on the impact fentanyl is having in North America and Central Alberta.
Const. Lintott explained he has seen first hand how Fentanyl is entering the country from black markets in China using internet ordering. The officer detailed an investigative operation the Red Deer unit conducted in which a controlled fentanyl order conducted by the RCMP was successfully delivered using this method.
“When we first started seeing fentanyl in Canada it was being sold as Oxy 80’s [Oxycotin],” explained Const. Lintott. “Because of this, pharmaceutical companies stopped producing 80mg Oxycotin because of the abuse. People turned around and began making these Fentanyl tablets and selling them as Oxy’s.”
He added fentanyl is not only being sold as Oxycotin. The opiate is being used a cutting agent in nearly every street drug as a means for dealers to increase profit margins. Fentanyl is increasingly cheaper than other street drugs, explained Lintott.
During the presentation, the officers played a video which showcased how Fentanyl can be anywhere from 40-50 times more potent than street quality heroine. A very small amount ingested or even absorbed through the skin can be fatal detailed the video.
Alberta, like many provinces, has seen a rapid rise in fentanyl-related overdose deaths over the past few years. According to Alberta Health, from January to September of this year, 338 Albertans died from an apparent drug overdose related to fentanyl or another opioid. 193 of these deaths were related to fentanyl. This compares to 205 fentanyl-related deaths during the first nine months of 2015.
The majority of deaths, 89 per cent in 2016 and 83 per cent in 2015, have occurred in larger urban centers. The rate of emergency department visits in Alberta related to opioid use and substance misuse increased by 84 per cent from the first quarter of 2014 to the second quarter of 2016. This rise in fentanyl overdoses is part of a pattern that has been seen across Canada.
In response to the fentanyl crisis across the province, Alberta Health Services launched the Take Home Naloxone program. Naloxone can reverse a fentanyl overdose long enough for some one who has overdosed to be taken to the hospital. You don’t need a prescription for Naloxone and it’s free at nearly 900 registered sites across Alberta including both Shoppers Drug Marts in Sylvan Lake. Naloxone can’t be self administered, therefore authorities suggest drug users never use alone. Alberta Health Services advises any one who could come in contact with fentanyl in their day to day should carry Naloxone.