What you need to know about fentanyl

Many readers doubtlessly have heard about a “new” recreational drug of choice that’s killing almost a person a day a day in Alberta...

Many readers doubtlessly have heard about a “new” recreational drug of choice that’s killing almost a person a day a day in Alberta, according to police. The “new” drug’s name is fentanyl, the same drug that killed recording star Prince last spring.

As happens so often, the drug is labeled “new” because it’s being used or abused in a new or novel way. Fentanyl has been around since the late 50’s, early 60’s and is an opioid, which is a fancy way of saying heroin. Fentanyl is synthetic, and used as an extremely powerful painkiller, so powerful, in fact, that only experts should handle it. Conservative estimates of its potency are between 80 and 100 times that of morphine, itself considered a powerful, addictive painkiller.

The Airdrie RCMP released some useful information this week on fentanyl. “The Airdrie RCMP is reaching out to inform citizens of the negative impacts the illegal use of the drug Fentanyl is causing in their community. Statistics show in 2015 the Airdrie RCMP responded to approximately 18 calls directly related to Fentanyl, and in 2016, the stats are already on the rise, with 23 related reports as of today’s date of September 27. Occurrence types include crime prevention, mental health act, possession of controlled substance, assistance to ambulance, information files, assault, and many more. There have been two reported deaths believed to be Fentanyl related, a recent from 2016 which is still under investigation and the other from 2015 which has been confirmed as a fentanyl overdose.

“Fentanyl is a highly addictive and potent substance which is regulated under the Food and Drugs Act, as well as the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. It is a highly addictive and potent drug that is often passed off as the new form of the pharmaceutical drug OxyContin, but Fentanyl is about 100 times more toxic than morphine, heroin, or oxycodone.”

Even more dangerous is the fact a recreational dose of fentanyl and a potentially lethal dose are similar to the naked eye, which very likely explains why people abusing fentanyl are dying on a regular basis.

Why is fentanyl so prevalent now? The simplest explanation has to do with the interprovincial drug trade. Organized crime that dominates the illegal drug trade appears to be using fentanyl as a substitute for other heroin-related drugs that are in short supply, such as OxyContin. However, whether users know that they’re taking fentanyl is a matter of debate.

No doubt, the same philosophy that surrounds heroin addiction in Canada will probably be adopted by fentanyl “experts.” The philosophy is called “harm reduction,” and it works like this: kicking heroin is difficult, so difficult in fact, that an easier, rather illogical treatment seems to be preferred. The easiest treatment is no treatment at all, but rather to allow the heroin addict to enjoy their suicidal addiction in the form of other opium-derived drugs such as morphine and methadone, all the while counselors taking credit for the addict’s “recovery.” The philosophy reminds this writer of any kind of fad diet that’s based on the premise that someone can lose weight by eating food.

But all of that aside, the entire philosophy of “harm reduction” strategies is fundamentally and deeply flawed. If the best approach government employees and the addicts themselves have to address addictions is to toss people a dumbed-down form of drug, there really isn’t any hope.

In the opinion of this writer, perhaps less time should be spent on things like harm reduction strategies and more time talking and thinking about all the things, besides selfish, self-destructive mind-altering drugs, that make life worth living.

 

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