Prairie Harm Reduction (PHR) in Saskatoon is warning of a new substance, suspected of being methamphetamine, which has been introduced and tested positive for fentanyl and benzodiazepines.
Kayla Demong, executive director of PHR, said the substance was something she had never seen before and was introduced on Tuesday by someone who had accessed their services.
She said it looked yellowish and off-white.
Regina man charged after police seize nearly 93 grams of fentanyl, firearms ammunition
“As fentanyl and benzodiazepines become a growing concern here, we monitor and test them so we can educate the community on safer ways to use these substances to reduce the risk of overdose,” Demong said. .
“We know that concern has increased over the past few years as we have seen an ever-increasing number of overdose deaths in our province. And the figures that have been released for the first half of this year show that we will probably exceed last year’s figures.
British Columbia Drug Decriminalization Plan
In Saskatchewan, the number of overdose deaths has more than tripled in the past six years, with 376 deaths reported last year by the Saskatchewan Coroners Service, compared to 109 in 2016.
Fentanyl is a leading contributor to the number of deaths, with 257 deaths caused by fentanyl reported in 2021, compared to nine reported in 2016.
Of the deaths caused by fentanyl in 2021, 59 occurred in Saskatoon while 159 were reported in Regina.
British Columbia men arrested after drone and methamphetamine intercepted at Manitoba jail
Demong said drug testing is quite limited, noting that their test strips only identify whether a chemical is in a substance, not how much.
Researcher says Canada’s ‘largest documented hailstone’ fell in Alberta on Monday
Canadian Forces to train Ukrainian soldiers in UK to counter Russia
She added that one of the main hurdles is being denied provincial funding – they’ve had to work limited hours and fight to keep the doors open as a result.
Troy Davies, director of public affairs for Medavie Health Services West, said they are seeing increased potency of the illicit drugs they have been dealing with for two years.
“How we say that is how much Narcan we actually give to patients when we transport them. So five years ago one dose for us, which we give intravenously, would suffice. (Recently) patients received up to eight doses of Narcan while being transported to hospital, which we have never seen before,” Davies said.
Nearly 500% increase in Narcan administrations by paramedics since 2019
He added that the increase in overdoses is a trend seen across Canada.
“There really is no playbook for this, since the COVID lockdown we’ve seen the numbers skyrocket.”
Feds have no plan on safe drug supply to reduce overdoses, MP says
Morgan Hackl, fire chief for the Saskatoon Fire Department, said the number of calls they respond involving ovedoses continues to rise.
“In 2020 we saw a 90% spike over the previous year,” Hackl said. “In 2021, this increase worsened and we saw another 58% increase in overdoses.”
He noted that already in 2022, overdose calls had increased by another 7%. They have responded to 466 overdose calls so far this year.
Hackl said it will take a lot of work if we are ever going to get back to those pre-pandemic numbers.
“It’s going to take a whole community approach. It’s not just about the initial response, the emergency responders, it’s about working with different levels of government to get support related to mental health and addictions.
“The homelessness crisis across Canada is at an all time high, so what we are learning is that this whole community approach – working with social services, working with health, working with different levels of government municipal all together to really work to support community safety and well-being – must happen.
© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.