There have been 43 seizures of fentanyl in Waterloo region — but that number could more than double if police suspicions are correct.  

Police must send all drugs they suspect to be fentanyl to Health Canada for testing. Waterloo Regional Police are currently awaiting the results of drugs seized in 57 cases.

Fentanyl is a highly potent painkiller up to 100 times more powerful than heroin. It has been blamed in hundreds of accidental overdose deaths from Ontario to B.C. and healthcare workers in this province have called on the government to declare a state of emergency for the ongoing opioid crisis.

100 fentanyl seizures possible so far

If the suspected cases of fentanyl are in fact the drug, it would mean there have been 100 seizures of fentanyl in Waterloo region so far this year. That's compared to the 90 seizures in 2016 and 12 in 2015.

Those numbers are not a surprise considering the number of deaths related to fentanyl use in the region.

Opioid overdose death types of drugs waterloo region 2016

This graph shows which drugs were involved in opioid overdose deaths in Waterloo region since 2005. The blue line that goes up dramatically in 2016 is fentanyl. (Public Health Ontario)

In total, 38 people died from opioid overdoses in 2016 in Waterloo Region, and in 24 of those deaths, fentanyl was involved.

In 2015, 23 people died of opioid overdoses and fentanyl was involved in seven deaths. Of the 22 fatal opioid overdoses in 2014, fentanyl was a factor in five.

Police and harm-reduction workers have warned fentanyl is often added to other street drugs, and since potency levels vary widely the person taking the drugs often doesn't know if they're about to take a lethal dose.