With the provincial death toll mounting, a local group is taking steps to inform the public about the dangers of fentanyl, a substance that has been detected in half of opioid-overdose deaths in B.C. this year.
If trends continue, 800 British Columbians will be killed from overdoses by the end of the year, up from just under 500 in 2015 and around 200 per year from 2007-2010. Not all of those 800 deaths would be due to fentanyl, but those statistics certainly show that fentanyl is having a scary effect across the province.
“Provincially it’s become a pandemic,” said Jessica Jean, a volunteer with the Child and Youth Mental Health and Substance Use Collaborative Golden Local Action Team.
In response to this threat, the organization is planning a Fentanyl Education Seminar in order to open the discussion on what Jean calls a taboo subject.
“I think it’s more of a problem locally because of the discretion surrounding it. Nobody wants to talk about it. It’s still a taboo subject,” Jean said.
“There is a need to start the conversation, to open up doors, to get people talking, to realize that it isn’t the greatest topic to talk about…but it’s a topic that needs to be addressed to save our lives.”
In recent years, drug dealers have been shifting away from distributing pure drugs, latching onto a business model that allows them to import the inexpensive fentanyl and boost the effects of drugs ranging from heroin and crack cocaine to counterfeit prescription pills.
The high from the fentanyl laced drug might feel the same, but even a minuscule two milligrams can be fatal.
Jean believes that the seminar would be valuable for the entire community, regardless of whether an individual thinks the fentanyl crisis affects you or not.
“We’re hoping to open a dialogue. We need parents and our other community members to realize that this topic needs to be talked about,” Jean said.
“At some point, we’re hoping to save a life.”
The June 15 event will include a panel of guest speakers and a question and answer period, as well as a reception afterwards. It will begin at 7 p.m. at the Civic Centre and is being hosted in part with the Doctors of BC and the Province.