Saskatchewan

Regina detox centre sees increase of patients on fentanyl

An increasing number of people on fentanyl are entering addictions treatment in Regina, according to the program manager.

Regina police say two deaths this month may be linked to fentanyl

Troy Neiszner is the manager of the addiction treatment program in Regina. He says he has seen more people enter detox for fentanyl use this month. (CBC)

A higher number of people on fentanyl are entering addictions treatment in Regina, according to its program manager.

"We have seen an increase in fentanyl use and especially in the last month," said Troy Neiszner, manager of the addiction treatment program for the Regina Qu'Appelle Health Region.

"We've had a number of patients identify fentanyl as the substance they are coming off of or one of the substances they are coming to us looking to withdrawal from," Neiszner said.

On Wednesday, Regina police linked the death of a woman on Nov. 8, and the death of a man on Nov. 17, to fentanyl use.

Police said they are awaiting the results of toxicology tests but investigators and the coroner's office think the deaths were caused by fentanyl, an extremely potent and highly addictive opioid.

Treating fentanyl users 

Police said that two milligrams of fentanyl, which would look like four grains of salt, can kill an adult.

It is said to be up to 100 times more powerful than heroin.

Fentanyl, which has been a major concern in other Canadian cities, is now making its presence felt in Regina. (CBC)

Fentanyl is prescribed by doctors to treat pain but it is also sold on the street, and may be mixed with other drugs, without the user's knowledge.

Neiszner said the treatment program can help people on the drug.

"The withdrawal is really significant for a lot of our patients. They experience a lot of pain, muscle pain and joint pain, nausea, insomnia. We do have an opioid withdrawal protocol that we can help ease those symptoms," Neiszner said.

Overdose prevention kits handed out 

An antidote to prevent fatal opioid overdoses is being handed out by the harm reduction clinic on Albert Street. 

"I think throughout the country, we've had more overdoses from opiates," said Sheila Moore, psychiatric nurse for Regina Qu'Appelle Health Region.

"Fentanyl is a lot more potent (than other opioids) and I think why more people are overdosing," Moore said.

It says it has handed out 16 Naloxone kits since June.

The Regina Qu'Appelle Health Region's detox program has given out 60 of these Naloxone kits since June. (CBC)

People need to receive training from the detox centre. In some cases it is family members of opioid users, in other cases, the user themselves receive the kit.

Saskatchewan RCMP officers and paramedics in Regina and Saskatoon carry the antidote.

Corrections

  • This story stated there were 60 Naloxone kits handed out since June. The story has been corrected to read there were 16 Naloxone kits handed out since June.
    Nov 25, 2016 8:26 AM CT

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