Quite alarming:UBC study shows 100% of users will eventually get fentanyl compared with 45% in April
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Fentanyl detected in 100% of Downtown Eastside drug users in UBC study
Number of drug users testing positive for fentanyl jumped from 45 to 100% in 5 months
DARRYL DYCK / THE CANADIAN PRESS
A man prepares heroin he bought on the street to be injected at the Insite safe injection clinic in Vancouver, B.C.
By: Wanyee Li Metro Published on Thu Feb 01 2018
UBC researchers have detected fentanyl in 100 per cent of study participants in the Downtown Eastside, many of whom were enrolled in substitution therapy programs.
Fentanyl was detected in about 81 per cent of illicit-drug overdose deaths in B.C. overall last year, according to recently released data from the BC Coroners Service.
But new research shows the risk of overdose due to fentanyl is rapidly growing in marginalized communities like the Downtown Eastside, where the street-drug supply is increasingly contaminated.
“We wanted to understand just how common fentanyl was in the community. Up until now, what we had was based on how many people had died and we checked their blood and so on after death to find the fentanyl,” said Dr. William Honer, head of UBC’s department of psychiatry.
His team collected urine samples from more than 200 participants living in the Downtown Eastside from March to July 2017.
In March, 45 per cent of participants tested positive for fentanyl. Five months later, every single participant had fentanyl in their system.
“It’s the first community-based study of how prevalent fentanyl is and how quickly it can change over time,” said Honer.
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His team used the same testing strips to detect fentanyl as the ones Vancouver Coastal Health distribute at its supervised injection sites. That program allows drug users test the drugs before they use in an effort to reduce the number of overdoses.
Nonetheless, the overdose deaths in B.C. spiked last April. At the same time, UBC researchers detected a dramatic increase in the number of times fentanyl showed up in participants.
Dr. William Honer is head of UBC's department of pyschiatry
BRIAN KLADKO/UBC PUBLIC AFFAIRS
Dr. William Honer is head of UBC's department of
Honer says the finding supports a theory that public health officials and experts have long believed – that the rapid spread of fentanyl is the source of the increase of deaths.
And while sof the participants in the UBC study were also receiving treatment for drug use at the same time, about half of them tested positive for fentanyl at least once during the five-month duration.
It means people in treatment often stray from the prescribed suboxone or methadone, potentially jeopardizing their recovery, said Honer.
“As an opioid user, if you become adapted to the very strong drugs… then the prescribed drugs won’t work as well because the body becomes adapted to fentanyl,” he said.
The study shows that marginalized people who are drug users are often dealing with other issues that prevent them from sticking to a treatment plan. Another study on drug users in the Downtown Eastside found about half suffer from psychosis, a severe form of mental illness, and half suffer from Hepatitis C, said Honer.
“We have to look at comprehensive treatment, integrated between all three of these components.”
A record-breaking 1,422 people in B.C. died from illicit drug overdoses in 2017, according to the BC Coroners Service. About 993 people died from drug overdoses in 2016.
http://www.metronews.ca/news/vancouver/2018/02/01/fentanyl-increasingly-found-in-drugs-in-vancouver-s-downtown-eastside-study.html Editors' Picks
This is very unfortunate news. I live in BC actually, and a close friend of mine had 13 friends of his die last year from fentanyl overdoses, while only a fraction of them were hard drug users. Everyone seems to think automatically that these deaths are resulting only in the heroin & speedball junkie population - this is not the case.
It seems to be creeping its way into other drugs being sold on the street now. Most of those that died only smoked pot or indulged in ecstasy or the odd research chemical. While I can understand ecstasy being a prime target for fentanyl contamination (since it has always been a collection of different drugs pressed into tabs, while pure MDMA is a separate entity all its own,) it is sad to see that traffickers are using it at all, and that it also seems to be finding its way into marijuana if only in small percentages.
It seems foolish though to bring so much heat into your arena of operations while simultaneously killing off your customers.