More fentanyl-laced heroin found in City of Greater Sudbury
Addiction expert says Fentanyl is 50 to 100 times more potent than heroin
People in Greater Sudbury are being warned about the presence of a deadly mix of drugs being sold on the streets.
The Community Drug Strategy announced on Sunday that fentanyl-laced heroin has been found locally and is being sold under the name "Purple" or "Purp."
"This situation serves as an important reminder to the community that street drugs may be cut or mixed with substances such as fentanyl or carfentanil, and that even a very small amount of these substances can cause an overdose," said the statement from Public Health Sudbury and Districts. (PHSD)
It's not the first time PHSD has issued warnings about "Purp". It warned the community that that drugs tested in December of 2017 and January of 2018 were also tainted.
Fentanyl is 50 to 100 times more potent than heroin which is what makes the risk of overdose so much higher, said Dr. David Marsh the Chief Medical Director for the Canadian Addiction Treatment Centres.
"If they're using what they think is a tenth of a gram of heroin but it's actually fentanyl then it may be 2.5 grams rather than a tenth of a gram, so they get a much larger effect, it's much more likely to stop them from breathing and that's what would cause the overdose death," he said.
While heroin is not a new drug, it is fairly new to northern Ontario, said Marsh,
"It's been relatively rare that we see heroin use in northern Ontario, but over the last two to three years it's started to become more present."
However, Marsh doesn't believe that heroin coming into the city is just heroin.
"I suspect that often when drugs are sold as heroin in northern Ontario now, it's not actually heroin or not just heroin, it's maybe heroin mixed with fentanyl, or just fentanyl."
Marsh says what concerns him the most is just how potent fentanyl is, that even small differences in dosage can cause an overdose.
"It doesn't matter if it's injecting or smoking or snorting it, it's such a potent drug that people should not feel that they can tell what affect they're going to get, they should definitely always be considering any use of fentanyl or heroin as a risky situation that could lead to an overdose death," he said.
The Greater Sudbury Police Drug Unit has been tracking suspected opioid-related deaths for the past 25 months.
Staff Sergeant Richard Waugh, who oversees the drug unit, said there have been approximately 60 deaths in that time, that police believe are related to opioid use. He said that averaged out to about one opioid-related death every 13 days.
"People who are addicted to opioids like fentanyl, they want it, it's a more powerful high, it's in demand but the consequences of taking it, taking this drug could end your life, you know, it's just the addiction's too powerful and people aren't stopping," said Waugh.
When we have someone dying every 13 days in our community (of suspected overdoses), you know, it just can't happen, but it is.- Staff Sergeant Rick Waugh
Waugh says the biggest risk to the community is the people who bring these drugs into the city.
"The greatest threat to community safety right now, from my perspective is those people who make the conscious decision to traffic in an opioid. When we have someone dying every 13 days in our community, you know, it just can't happen, but it is," he said.
The Greater Sudbury Police are looking for ways to hold the people bringing these drugs into the city responsible for opioid-related deaths, said Waugh.