Opioids leaving deadly path in Red Deer

Unpredictable and easily accessible, opioids such as fentanyl, have left their mark on Red Deer, killing 25 people in the last two years, according to Alberta Health.

Jennifer Vanderschaeghe, Turning Point executive director, said the unpredictability of the drugs being used has helped make them fatal.

For example, a user would purchase five pills and use the first pill to test the potency of the rest of the pills, said Vanderschaeghe.

See also:

But now, with a stronger opioid going into the drugs, it’s difficult to gauge the effects a dose will have.

“It’s so strong and not pharmaceutically made, so the batches have strong and weak spots within each pill,” said Vanderschaeghe. “You can’t predict any of the content. The reality is this business is profited by money and not by health.

“The reality is nobody knows what they’re using.”

Sgt. Eric McKenzie, Red Deer RCMP General Investigation Section, said fentanyl has become the dealers’ “drug of choice,” because of the ease of acquiring it.

“There are definitely users who want and use fentanyl. But it’s easier and more economical to deal fentanyl than it is heroin,” said McKenzie.

“Getting a kilogram of heroin into North America requires a connection with organized crime and a lot of work. Getting fentanyl isn’t that difficult to get. It’s to the point where you can order it online.”

The Chinese and Canadian governments signed a memorandum of understanding in November aimed at disrupting the supply of fentanyl and synthetic opioids.

In medical practice opioids are often used to relieve pain, but can be addictive. Opioids includes drugs such as morphine, hydrocodone, oxycodone and fentanyl.

Vanderschaeghe said the problem starts with shipping different drugs into Canada to meet the demand for opiates.

“The business around bringing in drugs to sell in Canada has led to increasing the purity of the opiates,” Vanderschaeghe said. “Fentanyl was just the substantial upping the ante of this business issue.

“Fentanyl is really just the beginning of this. We saw fentanyl and then we saw W-18. We saw carfentanil.”

The clandestine production of fentanyl and other opioids and the inconsistency from pill-to-pill creates a danger.

But McKenzie said fentanyl has also been found laced into other drugs.

“We have seen fentanyl mixed with every type of drug known to us,” said McKenzie.

Police have taken steps to protect themselves including carrying NarCan kits (a nasal spray of naloxone, which can block the effects of opioids) in case they are exposed, working in pairs and wearing coloured gloves to enable them to see the white powder residue the drug can leave.

Similarly, opioid users are being encouraged to adopt a buddy system and have naloxone ready in case something goes wrong.


Just Posted

WATCH: Christmas Wish Breakfast toy donations almost double

All toys donated Sunday will be given to the Red Deer Christmas Bureau and Red Deer Salvation Army

VIDEO: ‘Party bus’ goes up in flames in Vancouver

Fire crews responded to the late night blaze

Mothers Against Drunk Driving hold candlelight vigil

Four-and-a-half years ago Marilyn Rinas’ husband was killed in a collision with… Continue reading

Thousands expected at memorial for fallen police officer in Abbotsford, B.C.

ABBOTSFORD, B.C. — The streets of Abbotsford, B.C., will be lined with… Continue reading

One person dead, five others injured in early-morning crash in Kingston, Ont.

KINGSTON, Ont. — A man who was checking the damage on his… Continue reading

VIDEO: Replay Red Deer: Nov. 19

Watch news highlights from the week of Nov. 13

CP Holiday train to stop in Ponoka for another year

The popular train will feature entertainment from Colin James and Emma-Lee

Kittens rescued after allegedly being tossed from vehicle

Couple finds abandoned kittens new home through Facebook

VIDEO: ‘Party bus’ goes up in flames in Vancouver

Fire crews responded to the late night blaze

Chicken crosses B.C. road, stops traffic

Rooster makes early morning commuters wait in Maple Ridge

Red Deerian honours her brother who died in a motorcycle collision

Houaida Haddad is encouraging Red Deer residents to donate blood

Red Deer County firefighters to be recognized for Waterton help

RCMP brass will give formal recognition Monday

Ron James tries to lighten humanity’s load through humour

The comedian returns to Red Deer for shows Dec. 1 and 2

100+ Women Red Deer donate to Christmas Bureau

About $14,000 will help with Christmas hampers and toys

Most Read

Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month