Drug over doses, especially related to Fentanyl and Carfentanyl have been making headlines across the country in recent months. The Shelburne community is not immune to this issue. Police and Paramedics have dealt with numerous accidental opioid overdoses, and even several deaths due to accidental overdoses throughout the county.
Presentations on this issue were conducted at Centre Dufferin District High School to all their students on June 5th. This event was organized and coordinated by Laura LaRocca of Dufferin Parent Support Network.
Constable Paul Neumann introduced the topic by discussing the fact that this is a serious danger across the country, including all communities in Dufferin County. The officer confirmed that opioids including fentanyl have been identified locally, and that both prescription forms of the drugs and illicitly manufactured forms of the drugs are circulating throughout the province.
Neumann also warned the students that opioids including fentanyl are more commonly used to lace other more common street drugs, including marijuana and cocaine. The concern is that non-medical prescribed marijuana has no controls on quality or composition. “If you buy marijuana for recreational use, you have no way of knowing what you are truly getting, and there is a very real danger it could be laced with an opioid drug”, warned the officer.
The main speaker was Kristy FEARON, the Addiction Outreach Counsellor from Family Transition Place. Her talk covered the different types of opioids, how they work, what forms they come in, how they affect the user, and how prescription opioids are a common source of addictions.
Fearon also explained how quickly and easily a couple experimentations with certain opioids can quickly lead to an addiction. The withdrawal effects are both physically and psychologically devastating, which is what motivates the addicted user to take another dose.
An eye-opening portion of Fearon’s presentation was about Carfentanyl. It was explained that Fentanyl is about 100 times more potent than Morphine, and Carfentanyl is up to 100 times more potent than Fentanyl – making it the most dangerous illicit drug ever to circulate in Canada. Carfentanyl found in Canada is exclusively produced in illicit labs where there is no quality control and the drug will have unknown toxicity levels.
Fearon presented some statistics from 2015 in regards to opioid overdose hospitalizations and deaths in the central west zone which includes Dufferin County. The statistics indicate that males are more common than females to overdose, and that there were about 70 hospitalizations due to overdoses on opioid drugs. Further there were 35 confirmed deaths in the region directly due to opioid use.
Finally Fearon spoke about the various local resources that users, or family and friends of users can reach out to for help. They include:
- Family Transition Place (16+)
- Homewood Community Addiction Services
- Impact Program through CMHA Peel Dufferin (12-18)
- Child and Youth Workers or Social Workers in your school
- Here 24 seven
- Dufferin Child and Family Services – Talk In Clinic
- Headwaters Health Care Centre
The final speaker was Deputy Chief Paul DePrinse of Dufferin County Paramedic Services. He focused on the symptoms that may be present in an overdose, and what to do to help a potential overdose victim. The biggest concern is that these drugs suppress the breathing of the user, and breathing can stop all together, which of course is fatal if assistance isn`t provided quickly. Calling 9-1-1 is essential. Assisting the victim with their breathing may be necessary and even initiating CPR.
Fentanyl and Carfentayl were some of primary concerns talked about by DePrinse. He stated, “Carfentanyl is used to sedate elephants, why would any person ever want to take such a drug”. He also repeated the concern that Fentanyl is often cut into other drugs such as cocaine and marijuana, and encouraged all the students to make “good choices”.
DePrinse also confirmed that Dufferin Paramedics dealt with two accidental overdose deaths in the county so far this year, both confirmed to be directly related to Fentanyl.
“We hope the students take this information to heart and use it to look after themselves, their family, and their friends”, stated Constable Neumann. “We also hope this presentation opens the lines of communications among peers and families, and that parents take the opportunity to discuss this issue with their children”.
These same community partners are in the process of arranging another presentation at CDDHS on an evening in the next few weeks for parents and any other members of the public that would like to attend. The date and time will be announced soon.