Law enforcement, health officials and community members across the country are sounding the alarm, as a fentanyl crisis knocks at our doorsteps. Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid , that is similar to morphine but is 50 to 100 times more potent.
It’s prescribed by doctors in the form of a patch for pain management however patients often sell their prescription on the black market, where it is used at a high risk of overdose.
The allure of the dangerous drug, is that a dosage the size of a grain of salt produces a heroin like state of pure euphoria, if that dose is doubled however, it becomes fatal.
Linda Sibley, Executive Director at the Addiction Services of Thames Valley, says the foremost, major risk with prescribed fentanyl is the way the patches are abused.
“The problem is people use discarded patches, or purchase them on the black market, boil the patch down and inject it. They don’t know what dosage their getting. People don’t intend to overdose, its not an intentional act but they can overdose”
Although abuse of the prescribed drug is dangerous, its imitator that’s turning up on our streets, is worse.
“The bootleg fentanyl that’s on the street is much, much, more dangerous. That of course poses a great concern for us because people don’t know what it is that they’re using and so the dangers are immense” said Sibley.
If despite all this you choose to use the drug, make sure you are not alone and have naloxone kit, in case of an overdose.
Fentanyl poses a risk not only to those looking to use the drug directly but to all recreational drugs and their users, making any form of drug use a game of Russian roulette.
“There are reports of it in marijuana, in all kinds of other drugs. Those who are selling drugs to the public whether they have a regular relationship with someone, or whether its a first or second time experience, they want you to buy their drug. So the risk of overdose, ending up in hospital or worse, is very real” said Sibley.
How well is London prepared for all of this? Well, Ms. Sibley, wants to assure the community that the addiction treatment system, street outreach team, and shelters are all aware of the risk fentanyl brings to London.
“We are working towards a community alcohol and drug strategy that will include this kind of thing. You have to be light-footed around being ready for these types of drugs because there is always someone trying to out think the current trend. There will be another one”
The Addiction Services of Thames Valley want to get the message across that now, more than ever, it’s important for recreational drug users and even more experienced users, to make sure they know what it is they’re experimenting with and using.
It could be a matter of life and death.