As a direct consequence of the closure of the borders, the new crisis of the fentanyl now extends outside of Montreal, where the community is much less prepared for dealing with this issue.
In the Outaouais region, the authorities have reported the presence of heroin, purple, drugs, purple, sold as heroin, but which in reality is a mixture of benzodiazepines and fentanyl, an opiate 100 times more potent than morphine, often the cause of fatal overdoses.
“That explains why we had three deaths in three weeks. Over there, there was someone who used for over 20 years and who, therefore, had less risk of overdose. And that is without counting the many non-fatal overdose of which we had knowledge,” alarmed ” by Annie Castonguay, deputy director of the regional Office of aids (ARMS), an organization that works in sexual health, but also substance abuse in Ottawa.
Annie Castonguay, assistant director of the ARMS in the Outaouais region.
Border in question
In more than 20 years of career, she claims to have never been confronted by such a situation. In 2017, the crisis of fentanyl has hit the Outaouais region, but nothing compared to Montreal, and even less if you compare with the West of canada, where the situation is dramatic in the last several years.
“This time, it is directly related to the pandemic. There are fewer planes, and we should not hide it, the drug passes by the aircraft. So there are resellers who cut the drug with fentanyl. There are also drugs that are no longer on the market and consumers, therefore, need to take products they are less familiar with”, explained Ms. Castonguay.
The Outaouais region is not the only region that is hit by an outbreak of fentanyl. Last month in Saguenay, it was detected the presence of this drug. This week, in Trois-Rivières, a pharmacy has been burgled and opiates, including fentanyl, have been stolen. In a report of TVA News, stakeholders in the region said they feared that the substances to be cultivated are able to be added to drugs.
“We will all go there. It’s going to make the tour of Quebec, as the border does not reopen before the end of August, provides Annie Castonguay.
Lack of resources
This reality is even more concerning that the regions are much less equipped to respond to a surge of fentanyl on the territory of quebec.
In Gatineau, for example, there is no centre of supervised injection, in contrast to Montreal and Quebec city.
“There is one in Ottawa, but people cross little bridge. We are working to make off on foot, but the steps are very long, we’re talking a year, year and a half,” said the deputy director of the ARM.
The organization would also like to acquire a spectrometer, a very costly tool that would allow on-the-spot to detect all substances present in a dose.
For the moment, the community-based organizations and pharmacies Outaouais simply distribute kits of naloxone, a drug allowing to temporarily block the devastating effects of the fentanyl.
We also give the test strips that can identify the presence of fentanyl, but as it is the consumers who are called upon to make themselves the test, this instrument is not as effective as the spectrometer, according to Annie Castonguay.
“The watchword at this time, it really is to consume in a group, and it is not everybody that consumes in the same time so that someone can react in case of an overdose. There is also a demand to consume smaller quantities”, she insisted.