Everything You Should Know About Fentanyl

The rate of fentanyl-related overdoses and deaths is an increasing epidemic throughout all of Canada that adversely effects thousands of families every year. If you or someone you know has personal experience with a fentanyl habit, then it’s imperative that you seek immediate opioid addiction treatment in Toronto or any other major Canadian city to prevent the situation from getting worse. Continue reading to learn everything you need to know about this deadly and highly addictive drug and do everything you can in your power to help someone who may be suffering from an opioid addiction.

opioid addiction

What Is Fentanyl?

Fentanyl is an extremely potent analgesic drug that’s usually prescribed to patients who are either in the process of recovering from major surgery, patients who’ve sustained a serious injury, and especially those who suffer from chronic pain. It’s so powerful that all it takes is a tiny amount—2 mg, which is the equivalent of approximately four grains of rice—to cause an overdose in the average adult. The drug is classified as a schedule II opioid drug, which means that people who take it are at extremely high risk of developing a dependency or full-blown addiction, which can lead to severely harmful physical and psychological repercussions. It is available in a variety of forms including prescription pills, blotter paper, powder, and it can even be intravenously injected into the bloodstream.

Due to the ongoing fentanyl crisis in Canada, an increasing number of rehabilitation centres throughout the country are experiencing an unprecedented surplus of opiate treatment candidates. For that reason, many health-related government agencies are calling for stronger administrative involvement in the form of more rigid regulations concerning the production, distribution, and management of opioid drugs such as fentanyl in Canada. They’re requesting that mandates be set in motion that make more in-depth information and resources easily available to the general public. This includes information on how to recognize a potential fentanyl overdose in progress; how to identify the potential signs of an addiction to prevent a possible overdose; and what actions to take if you’re ever in the presence of someone who’s overdosing. In grave situations like this knowledge and quick thinking are invaluable and effective allies.

Canadian Statistics about Fentanyl

Statistics regarding fentanyl use vary greatly from one province or territory to another. British Columbia and Alberta are among the highest-ranking provinces in Canada when it comes to fentanyl abuse and overdose-related deaths. Unfortunately, the other provinces aren’t too far behind. Between January and April of this year, the BC Coroners Service reported that there were 368 cases of overdoses in the province that were either directly or indirectly related to fentanyl use in some capacity. Furthermore, fentanyl was used in combination with other drugs including heroin, methadone, and even alcohol. All of these reported cases exclude incidents in which fentanyl was prescribed by a doctor or used as a mechanism for self harm.

In Alberta, between January and March 2016, Alberta Health reported that there were 70 deaths caused directly or indirectly by fentanyl and that number jumped to 120 during the same time period in 2017. Overall, there were approximately 2,816 opioid related overdose deaths and by the end of this year, that number is expected to reach about 3,000. According to a Global National report, 73% of those affected were male and 52% of opioid related deaths can be attributed to fentanyl to some degree.

Between 2016 and 2017, an average of 16 Canadians were admitted to hospitals daily for opioid poisoning treatment. Of course, those numbers vary from one geographic region to another. Interestingly enough, however, it appears that this crisis is more prevalent in smaller cities such as Saskatoon, London, Hamilton, and Victoria as opposed to larger and more populated municipalities.

The Rise of the Opiate Epidemic in Canada and Lack of Public Awareness

Contrary to popular belief, not all of these deaths are a result of intentional self harm, abuse, or addiction. There are a number of individual contributing factors involved in each case. A lot of these overdose deaths, especially in cases where the victims are seniors, are accidental. About 84% of cases where Canadians have been admitted to hospitals to treat an opiate overdose also involved a mix of other illicit drugs and in many of these incidents, the victims were unaware that trace or lethal amounts of fentanyl were comingled with their drug of choice. The problem with fentanyl is that it can easily and discreetly be mixed in with other drugs such as heroin, cocaine, and methadone because it has no distinguishable taste or scent, and this makes it wholly undetectable.

New Canadian Opioid Guidelines Established in 2017

In response, to the growing opioid epidemic in this country, Health Canada and The Canadian Institute of Health Research funded a 2017 Canadian Guideline for Opioids for Chronic Pain that was developed by an international group of esteemed medical professionals to address the problem head-on. This initiative was put forth by the Michael G. DeGroote National Pain Centre at McMaster University and it outlines specific amendments that have been made since the original guideline was published in 2010.

This guideline, however, doesn’t address opioid drugs that are used to treat palliative care patients, acute pain, or patients being treated for opioid addiction or accidental poisoning. These are merely recommendations put forth as a guideline for physicians treating cancer patients who are suffering from unimaginable chronic pain as a result of their medical treatment, but it’s not a government mandated regulation.

How Can Freedom From Addiction Help People with Opioid Addiction?

At Freedom From Addiction, our top priority is to ensure the overall safety and thorough treatment of all of our patients. With the steadily growing opioid epidemic in Canada, we’re taking all of the appropriate steps to guarantee that each and every single one of our staff members are well prepared to handle even the most minor opioid addiction cases. As one of Toronto’s only privately-operated addiction and substance abuse treatment centers that’s accredited by Accreditation Canada, Freedom From Addiction can confidently guarantee that you or your loved one will receive the absolute highest level of treatment and care. Our experienced staff of addiction counsellors, psychologists, and other medical professionals will take the time to carefully examine each individual situation and come up with an appropriate treatment plan, including opiate withdrawal in Toronto to ensure the success of every patient. Contact us today to learn more about our addictions and substance abuse counseling programs.