Waterloo Region is one of many places throughout Canada and the United States that are experiencing a rise in the number of fentanyl related deaths at an alarming rate. Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid, it is similar to morphine as it is used professionally as a pain killer, except fentanyl is 50 to 100 times stronger depending on its purity. Police services are having a hard time because they can obtain and seize drugs that are on the streets illegally, but they can not control what drug is being sold or mixed in with these other illicit substances. One of the many problems with fentanyl is that it is untraceable without having proper equipment, and can be a in pill, powder, or liquid form.
Known formally as Naloxone, Narcan is an antidote for opioids and has the ability to reverses the devastating effects of fentanyl.
Although it is merely a temporary solution, it can postpone the side effects of a fentanyl overdose anywhere from 30 to 90 minutes, which in most cases, gives the patient enough to seek further medical attention. There have been reports from police services all across Canada that have stated Narcan has helped immensely. Prior to this antidote, there was not much police officers could do for long term drug users who turned to fentanyl to increase their high. But now, thanks for Narcan, officers now have the ability to carry around this life saving tool in the field and continue to better serve their community.
The challenge that users have to endure with fentanyl is that it is a very intoxicating opioid, which makes the withdraw process even harder. Not only that, even in the smallest traces of fentanyl in its pure form, as small as four grains of salt, can kill an adult. This puts any user at risk, weather it is oxycontin or heroin, the smallest amount spiked with fentanyl can have deathly results.
The number of opioid-related overdose calls to Waterloo Regional Paramedic Services grew from roughly 200 in 2015 to more than 400 last year.
For police services, this has changed the way they conduct searches and raids. Officers now have to be very conscientious and alert due to the increased risk level fentanyl causes. Police services also have to change the way they handle drugs when they confiscate them, what they may think to be a bag of cocaine, could very well be a bag of fentanyl and could kill them, even if the small amount is inhaled. Check out a video the RCMP released about some tips to help other police services when handling fentanyl.