Ahead of the Civic Holiday weekend, the Middlesex-London Health Unit, the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), Addiction Services Thames Valley (ADSTV) and the London Police Service are issuing an alert. Potentially lethal fentanyl is showing up in other drugs.
Urine Drug Screening (UDS) conducted this week at ADSTV’s Suboxone Clinic detected fentanyl in people who reported using only heroin and in others who reported only smoking marijuana. There have also been reports that fentanyl is available in powdered form in London and that it is being snorted, like cocaine.
Because ingesting even small amounts of fentanyl can prove to be fatal, evidence that it is seemingly being added to other illicit narcotics is cause for great concern.
“When people use illicit drugs, there’s no way to know exactly what they’re ingesting. Finding fentanyl in drugs like marijuana means that people who think they are doing something minor may end up dying of overdose,” says Dr. Chris Mackie, the Middlesex-London Health Unit’s Medical Officer of Health. “Fentanyl is 100 times more lethal than morphine.”
“The use of illicit street drugs and non-prescribed medication can be deadly. The London Police Service recognizes that drug abuse and drug addiction is an unfortunate reality, but still strongly discourages anyone from ingesting any illicit substance,” says Chief John Pare. “Users have no way of knowing what they are ingesting and too often the results are tragic. Recently, our police service has found that many illicit drugs have traces of fentanyl in them.”
“In testing done during the last week of July, we detected fentanyl in the urine of people who told us they weren’t even using it. It seems dealers are adding it to other drugs,” says Dr. Ken Lee with the CMHA ADSTV Suboxone Clinic. “Users are probably not getting what they think they’re getting and someone is going to die from this.”
Due to the risk of overdose, and because there is no way to detect the presence of fentanyl in another drug, it is recommended that people who use drugs carry a Naloxone Kit and that they not use alone.
Naloxone kits, and training on how to use them, are available from the Middlesex-London Health Unit, other community organizations, provincial corrections facilities and many pharmacies.
Visit www.healthunit.com/naloxone for more information.
Dan Flaherty, Communications Manager, Middlesex-London Health Unit
519-663-5317 ext. 2469 or 519-617-0570 (cell.)
Chris Mackie, Medical Officer of Health and CEO, Middlesex-London Health Unit
Dr. Ken Lee, Canadian Mental Health Association, Addiction Services Thames Valley