MONTREAL | New crisis of fentanyl, increased cases of psychosis, increase in the number of homeless: living on the street became even more nightmarish than before because of the pandemic.
“During the crisis, we have shoveled a lot of problems ahead, and there, they catch up with you. I expect it was a very hot summer in Montreal,” said Annie Aubertin, director of Spectrum street.
In normal times, the stakeholders of this organization to the east of Montreal help around thirty people per day on the field. However, since a few weeks, we are talking about sixty people, which suggests that the population in a situation of homelessness has significantly risen since the beginning of the crisis.
“We’re seeing people that we had never seen. There are immigrants who have fallen between two chairs, people who have been expelled by their roommate, the young people who have left the youth centres and who had nowhere to go…”, listed Mrs. Aubertin, whose body remained open throughout the crisis.
Left to themselves
Street workers have never stopped working, sterile syringes continued to be distributed to drug addicts, but the supervised injection site has had to close its doors for six weeks, a lack of material precautionary enough.
Three of the four locations that offer this service in Montreal have been forced to close their doors at the height of the pandemic, then they would have been more useful than ever before.
“[Because of the closure of the borders] of the people no longer had access to their usual consumption. They were in need and were therefore more willing to buy anything. In addition, as there was nobody in the street, they could not, begging and prostitution. So they had less money, while prices have increased,” said Annie Aubertin.
Return of the fentanyl
As it is more difficult to import drugs, the dealers cut their inventory with toxic products, including fentanyl, this dangerous opioid 40 times stronger than heroin and up to 100 times stronger than morphine.
The regional directorate of public health has released a warning this week to stakeholders and consumers about fentanyl hidden in the heroine in the form of a crystalline powder purple.
On Thursday, the police services in Ottawa and Montreal have broken up a network of distribution of this substance. Two individuals from Ottawa have been arrested.
“The drug market will recover when the border will reopen? It may be that some vendors will continue to cut their drugs with this hardware anyway, as it is paid”, is afraid of Annie Aubertin, who predicts that this new wave of fentanyl is going to hit Montreal even more harshly than the first crisis.
In 2017, the fentanyl had killed six people in the metropolis, then the number of dead was in the thousands in British Columbia, where the situation is still critical.
For the moment, it is there are no overdose fatal because fentanyl in Montreal, but the stakeholders of Spectrum street observe an increase of the number of psychoses since the beginning of the containment: because the drug is of lesser quality, but also because there is further distress in the street, insisted Annie Aubertin.