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Fentanyl Crisis in Our Hometown

Julia Chambers

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During the first three months of 2017, twenty-four people have lost their lives due to fentanyl overdose in Kelowna. B.C. Coroners Service says, “fentanyl appears to account for the alarming increase in deaths since 2012 which jumped from less than 300 to more than 900” B.C. wide. With a total of forty-seven fatalities from overdose last year, it is clear that the Okanagan is setting a new record for fatal drug overdoses in a year.

Fentanyl is an incredibly potent, dangerous, and rapid onsetting opioid pain medication. It is said to be 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine. In the year 1960, Paul Janssen created fentanyl to use as a regular anesthetic. It was introduced in patch form in the 1990s, and then followed by the introduction of fentanyl dissolving tablets, fentanyl spray, which could be absorbed orally, as well as the fentanyl lollipop, one decade later. By 2012, fentanyl was the most extensively used opioid in medicine, and in 2013, 1700 kilograms of fentanyl were used throughout the world.

Fentanyl is an incredibly potent, dangerous, and rapid onsetting opioid pain medication. It is said to be 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine. In the year 1960, Paul Janssen created fentanyl to use as a regular anesthetic. It was introduced in patch form in the 1990s, and then followed by the introduction of fentanyl dissolving tablets, fentanyl spray, which could be absorbed orally, as well as the fentanyl lollipop, one decade later. By 2012, fentanyl was the most extensively used opioid in medicine, and in 2013, 1700 kilograms of fentanyl were used throughout the world.

Nowadays, countless recreational drugs, most often heroin and cocaine, are laced with this powerful, synthetic opioid. This has led to thousands of overdose deaths worldwide from 2000 to present day. In September of 2015, death from fentanyl overdose was officially announced a public health crisis in Canada, and continues to be a pressing health issue. Last year, an average of two people died in B.C. per day from overdosing on fentanyl, and the number is only increasing.

Narcanon.ca that symptoms from using fentanyl, either medically or illicitly, can include the following

  • Dizziness and lightheadedness
  • Dry mouth
  • Retention of urine
  • Suppression of breathing
  • Severe constipation
  • Itching or hives
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Headache
  • Difficulty seeing
  • Depression
  • Hallucinations
  • Bad dreams
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Sweating
  • Shaking
  • Swollen extremities

Inn From the Cold, the Kelowna B.C. homeless shelter already deals the accumulating concern of overcrowding from the increase in drug users. With the fentanyl crisis on the rise, shelter workers constantly have to administer drug users with naloxone, an antidote for opioid overdose. Executive director, Jan Schulz, shared with CBC, “It’s very difficult when you are dealing with someone who you have been working with for some time and you see the individual in this situation and you know they are fighting for their life…It’s very, very hard. It’s very emotional.” The shelter is just barely making ends meet, but the staff is doing whatever they can do to help their clients.

Those who decide to combat their fentanyl addictions usually need aid in quitting. This usually involves treatment for fentanyl abuse at an inpatient residential treatment center, where the patient can receive immersive care, a safe environment for detox, group, as well as individual therapy sessions, and assistance with proper nutrition and physical health. Family educational programs are also offered so that those affected by the addicted family member can repair their relationships to improve their family life.

Treatment is a good option for those who have supportive home environments, however, treatment may not be applicable or accessible for those who are severely addicted, as well as for those who have related medical issues, as inpatient residential treatment does not remove the patient from the environment in which the patient has been using the drug. Treatment suitable for the addicted patient will depend on his or her own specific needs, and addressing those needs.

There is still reason for hope even in a user’s absolute all-time low. There are many treatment programs for fentanyl addiction is one knows where to look.

For information about treatment programs available for yourself or a loved one to get onto the road of recovery and overcome addiction, you can contact drugabuse.com’s hotline at 1-877-662-9071.

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Fentanyl Crisis in Our Hometown