Introduction

September is a great month. Football season starts back up, and schools back in semester, which means no more nagging from my mom to do my laundry or my dishes. Times are good.
But with the beginning of each new school year means concerned parents and an equally uninhibited youth that are willing to try a basket of new drugs coming their way in this new school year.
Parents, teachers, and emergency responders are all very aware of the risks of drugs, and even though we have all promised in our D.A.R.E booklets that we will “not do drugs,” these harmful substances still manage to sneak their way into our dorm rooms and lockers.
As a nineteen year old university student, I am not against drugs. Personally, I believe several illegal drugs hold the capability to eliminate various mental health illnesses and open your mind to completely new realms of interpretation and possibilities.With that being said, I still take my precautions when deciding whether or not to try a new drug because I am fully aware of the risks at hand.
But although I am educated on drugs, risks still remain a considerable threat when trying a new substance, or even a trusted substance, because you never know where it is coming from, and what is being injected into it.

Fentanyl is being laced with popular street drugs and is has recently snuck its way into the Canadian drug market

Many have never heard of the drug, and many who overdose from it, don’t even know it’s there.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opiate narcotic, a prescription drug used primarily for cancer patients in severe pain.
Since the discontinuation of popular street drug, Oxycontin, opioid abusers have been looking for a new drug to consume. Many switched over to heroin because the formula in oxycontin kept changing, making the pill harder to crush, and the effects take longer to set in, making it harder to get high.
With these two setbacks for abusers, they needed something more.
This is where Fentanyl came into the picture.
The drug has been used for about 20-30 years to treat cancer patients has recently snuck onto the Canadian drug scene, causing over 1000 deaths since 2009.
In the grand scheme of things, this may not seem like a sizeable figure, but the concern lies with the possibility of this drug being manufactured into more common street drugs that can land in the hands of many more consumers.
You may be asking, why and how has fentanyl become an issue in Canada?
Well, as previously discussed, with the discontinuation of oxycontin, there has been a growing demand for a strong opioid like fentanyl. But even more concerning is the fact that this drug is cheaper than heroin and is easier to smuggle because there isn’t as much publicity surrounding the narcotic.
Furthermore, what makes this drug so enticing to producers is the fact that it is estimated to be 100 times more powerful than morphine, and up to 50 times more potent than heroin.
These numbers are staggering, and explain why the number of overdoses have steadily increased in Canada since it’s introduction into the mainstream drug scene.
What you’re reading may be quite obvious; drugs have an will continue to be laced with more powerful narcotics, so users must proceed with caution.
But the thing is, fentanyl is more potent than anything we have ever seen, and consumers need to be aware of the potential risks, risks that are amplified than what we have previously seen.
The potency of this drug recently led to nine people overdosing over a 20-minute period in Delta, British Columbia. Delta police stated that fentanyl was most likely laced in the cocaine that the nine people ingested, and if this is the case, it is certainly the reason why these people died.

Although Fentanyl abuse in Canada began in B.C, the drug has since migrated into every province, and is currently the leading cause of Opioid deaths in Ontario

This is precisely why I am writing this article. As a university student, I am more than likely to come in contact with illicit drugs, as are many of my peers.
With one-third of opioid overdoses in Alberta being attributed to fentanyl, the risks are only increasing in each province, especially Ontario, which has a history of drug accessibility and overdoses.
Research on this subject is scarce, but a 2014 figure shows that fentanyl accounted for one in every four opioid overdoses in Ontario, a number that shows no signs of slowing down.
These facts have been raising concerns among Ontarians, and for good reason. As stated by Delta police officer Neil Dubord, “We know that fentanyl is very cheap, and when you’re using it to cut cocaine, to buff cocaine, you’re getting a lot more product without having to use a lot more cocaine.”
Producers have been enticed to lace cocaine, heroin, and various other drugs with fentanyl, because the product is cheaper, and they can use less of it due to its potency, which has people worried.



“There’s a good chance that we’re on the leading edge of a ruinous surge in heroin and fentanyl-related deaths in Ontario,” – David Juurlink
As various surveys show, illicit drug use is still highly common in Ontario, with more and more youth users being attributed to overdoses.
With fentanyl being the cheapest, more powerful alternative, it is giving rise to concern for many Ontarians.

Despite rising concern attributed to fentanyl distribution in Ontario, there are medications ready to counteract an overdose

Alberta and B.C. have taken the largest precautions in addressing the fentanyl crisis. In Alberta Health Services announced there will be expanded access to take-home naloxone kits. Naloxone is a drug that can temporarily reverse a fentanyl overdose.
Alberta Health is funding the distribution of 4,000 kits, and providing a mandatory training session that lasts between 10 and 15 minutes.
Twenty-nine walk-in clinics and eight existing harm reduction sites will receive the kits, along with the required prescription and training session.

The naloxone kits contain:

Instructions on how and when to administer the drug;
Two vials of naloxone;
Syringes;
An alcohol swab;
Latex gloves;
A one-way rescue breathing mask.
Ontario should follow suit and prepare for future overdose situations.
As previously mentioned, a large portion of drug consumption in Ontario will be with the youth. This means high schools, colleges, and universities will have access to illicit drugs (something we all know) so these facilities should have the naloxone kits in order to treat a possible fentanyl overdose.
Something like this is hard to do however. Asking the province to distribute naloxone kits to educational facilities across Ontario is a considerable task when you take into count that fentanyl is not currently scheduled as an epidemic.
But if we to avoid an overdose epidemic, this is a precaution the province must take.

 

Cocaine will not stop flowing into Canada. The same can be said for heroin, Oxycodone, marijuana, and various other drugs, but now, the issue has elevated into something much more dangerous; fentanyl will continue to be cut into these popular drugs and be distributed throughout the provinces into the hands of the youth, and nobody will even know it’s there.
 
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David McDonald

David McDonald

David is a 19-year-old Canadian student currently attending the University of Guelph. He currently studies Public Management and economics with hopes of one day becoming an accomplished journalist. David enjoys reporting on global events and actively try to make a difference in the world.
David McDonald

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