Risk to opiate users climbs as more bootleg fentanyl found on Guelph streets
Jennifer Wagner, CTV Kitchener
Published Wednesday, March 15, 2017 11:04PM EDT
A rise in the use of a deadly drug has officials in Wellington County and Guelph concerned.
There has been an increase in fentanyl found on city streets, causing overdoses and putting opiate users at increased risk.
According to outreach workers many drug users are actively trying to avoid fentanyl.
However it is almost impossible to tell whether fentanyl has been mixed in with other substances.
Karen Lomax, a street outreach worker with community health, says it's during face-to-face interactions when users discuss their fears about fentanyl.
"This is not the pharmaceutical grade, this is homemade fentanyl. It is so powerful that it just knocks them out."
Lomax says users keep track of who sells fentanyl but cross-contamination is easy.
"I'm hearing stories of younger folks just smoking a joint, that's all they do with no opiate tolerance whatsoever, and I've heard of overdoses going on like that."
Bootleg fentanyl that is cut and mixed into other drugs like heroin is causing overdoses right across Canada.
Guelph General Hospital has seen several overdoses per week in the emergency department.
To deal with the increase in overdoses and reduce opioid dependence, Guelph doctors are starting to provide Suboxone, a medication used to treat opioid addiction.
"We've had 25 physicians attend training and express interest in following up on that," said Adrienne Crowder, Manager of the Wellington Guelph Drug Strategy.
Crowder says the local medical community has worked to increase its capacity to work with people who are on high-dose or street opiates.
On March 24 the Wellington Guelph Drug Strategy is hosting an information training session on opiate and fentanyl for health care and social service providers to understand the extent of problem locally.
With reporting by Allison Tanner.