The Current

50 fentanyl deaths in Alberta calls for more treatment centres

In the first two months of this year, Alberta set a disturbing provincial record – 50 fatal fentanyl drug overdoses. Anecdotally, it seems many of those who buy fentanyl on the streets, don’t even know what they’re taking …confusing it with other opiates.
Fentanyl is a highly addictive opiate, considered 100 times more powerful than morphine. The dramatic rise in fentanyl deaths in Alberta, has doctors calling for more treatment spaces. (The Canadian Press/HO/Alberta Law Enforcement Response Teams )

"What we have here is a drug bust, and if you look at the 2,041 pills, you might as well look at those as bullets -- 2,000 bullets --because each of those pills, very well, could kill somebody.- Alberta police officer talking about fentanyl 

​It's something new showing up on the streets.

They call it green beans, or green apples, or the green monster.

But its proper name is fentanyl, and it's a highly addictive opiate -- considered 100 times more powerful than morphine.

Fentanyl can be lethal... and it often is. 

In just the first two months of this year, Alberta saw 50 people die from the street drug. Last year there were 120 deaths. Ben Borger nearly became one of those statistics. He is in fentanyl detox on Vancouver Island.

While Ben Borger fights his fentanyl addiction. Sparla McCann mourns her son Rory, who fought an addiction for several years before dying of a fentanyl overdose this past January. Rory was 19 years old. 

Sparla McCann joined us from Calgary.

The spike in deaths associated with fentanyl use in Alberta is alarming. Six people overdosed and died using it in 2011. Last year, the number was 120. And this year it's expected to rise yet again. 

Dr. Michael Trew is Alberta's Chief addiction and mental health officer. He was in our Calgary studio.

This segment was produced by Calgary Network Producer, Michael O'Halloran.