Why BC’s Illicit Drugs Are Increasingly Deadly

published on August 14, 2020 by Jen St. Denis in The Tyee

British Columbia’s illicit drug supply has become increasingly dangerous during the COVID-19 pandemic as borders are closed and more drugs are manufactured or altered domestically.

Dr. Mark Lysyshyn, deputy chief medical health officer for Vancouver Coastal Health, identified three main sources of contamination.

None are new, but it appears drugs are being made in a clumsier way and with less knowledge of how to get the mix right.

  • Fentanyl, the powerful synthetic opioid that has been the main cause of the deadly overdose crisis across North America, is showing up in much higher concentrations.
  • Another type of synthetic drug, benzodiazepines, and benzodiazepine analogues — some which are not cleared for human consumption — are increasingly being found in opioids like fentanyl and heroin.
  • In stimulants like methamphetamine or cocaine, testing shows fentanyl contamination in about five per cent of the drugs tested.

“The precursors are getting harder to access, so that means you use whatever you have domestically,” said Guy Felicella, a former heroin user and now a peer clinical advisor for the BC Centre on Substance Use, referring to the chemicals used to produce drugs…

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