Facing Up to the Fentanyl Crisis

published on August 11, 2017 by Karyn Ho in Research2Reality

What’s being done in Canada to deal with the dangerous drug? And do you know what to do if you suspect a fentanyl overdose?

Fentanyl is a hundred times more potent than heroin, and a dose the size of a grain of sand is enough to kill you.

Fentanyl’s potency makes it cheaper and easier to purchase and smuggle, so fentanyl is increasingly making its way into the drug trade, masquerading as heroin or other opioids like morphine or OxyContin. But in this environment, the dose is so poorly controlled that the resulting rash of fatal overdoses has become a public health crisis.

Toronto started construction on three new safe injection sites this week as part of a harm reduction strategy, accelerating the timeline to getting medically trained staff available to deal with overdoses.

But in the long term, doctors need to be better trained in addiction medicine. According to Jan Klimas, postdoctoral fellow at the University of British Columbia, broadening training beyond specialists will allow more doctors to diagnose addiction earlier, when treatment is most effective.

Klimas praises new regulations and guidelines that remove barriers to treating opioid addiction, including provincial medical coverage of buprenorphine/naloxone (also called Suboxone). This treatment is proven to reduce overdose deaths.

Do you know what to do if you witness a fentanyl overdose?

If you suspect a fentanyl overdose, this is a life-or-death situation. Call 911 straight away to report it and get medical professionals on site.

To encourage people to call for help, the Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act is now law in Canada, giving immunity from simple possession charges for those who call 911 in the case of an overdose.

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