Episode available within Canada only.

The only time Canadians hear about fentanyl seems to be when the death count gets abnormally high in a short period of time.  When 36 people died in one weekend in Surrey, British Columbia last summer, that caught everyone’s attention.  What Canadians don’t know is that fentanyl has been a steady killer for the past four years — the death count passing 2000 Canadians by August of 2016.  But while the grim news about overdose deaths has continually made the headlines, nobody has really looked at why this drug is such a killer.

drug labMainland Vancouver mock illegal drug lab

Unstoppable looks at this epidemic by going beyond the headlines to look at the problem through the eyes of people whose lives have been significantly changed by fentanyl.  RCMP drug cop Eric Boechler has to worry every time he puts his hands on a table when he raids a clandestine lab — in its pure form, fentanyl kills on contact with skin. 

Now, he has to virtually don the equivalent of a spacesuit every time he goes out to do his job.  “It gets overwhelming at some times, given where the issues are, and you continue to hear deaths are going up.”  Eric is also caught up in what might be seen as an absurd game of Whack-a-Mole.  Everytime he hits back at one version of fentanyl, another more powerful version takes its place — a version which may not even be illegal.

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Inside a fentanyl high, withdrawal and overdose
L
isten to an interview with director Robert Osborne

The carnage caused by the drug is what Keira St. George is left to clean up.  A street nurse in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, she says despairingly “It’s not slowing down, it’s getting worse, it’s going to get worse.”   What’s even more horrifying for Keira is that the one tool she has to fight back has just been rendered useless by the latest synthetic drug to hit the street, "W18".

man on a fall dayDrug chemist known as Beeker

But the most insight Unstoppable offers comes from a man known as Beeker.  He’s an insider in the drug manufacturing world with a history of making drugs.  Oddly, he’s also a charming and intelligent man with a degree in chemistry.  He loves painting and fishing and he’s oddly self reflective, well aware of what he does and the impact it has on people.  Acting as our guide, Beeker gives us insights into this world and his own life rarely seen.

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Unstoppable is an intimate look inside an ugly world, but a world that regardless of its sharp edges, can impact on any one of us at any time.  That’s what Pat O’Connell discovered when he got a call at midnight telling him his 27 year old son was in the hospital.  Pat and his family’s journey of discovery about the consequences of fentanyl and the horrifying decision they were forced to make will touch the hearts of all Canadians.

FROM THE FILM: "How hard is it to make fentanyl?" "Not very hard."

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