Fentanyl addiction and the unprecedented opioid crisis hold true in Canada and it is spreading like cancer across the country. The year 2016 has marked a skyrocketing number of overdose-related deaths especially in British Columbia and Alberta. In Vancouver, up to 9 deaths have been attributed to fentanyl in just one night. The alarming figure of deaths due to fentanyl abuse and overdose triggered numerous activities and movements such as the Overdose Awareness Day that took place in August in Vancouver. The highly potent opioid is known to result in over 370 drug overdose deaths in B.C.
Fentanyl Addiction Crisis Overview
The real question is that how did Canada get to the point of having an alarming increase of fentanyl-related overdose cases today? According to Dr. David Juurlink, clinical pharmacology and toxicology head at Toronto’s Sunnybrook Health Sciences Center, the massive increase in narcotic painkiller prescription first started 2 decades ago and this also opened the door for the fentanyl crisis as Canada experiences today. Opioid, particularly fentanyl, is a potent and strong painkiller that is only prescribed for acute or breakthrough pains. In the recent years, medications in this category have become widespread and commonly prescribed especially for chronic pains, resulting in a downward spiral towards fentanyl addiction.
Widespread Opioid Prescription
Medical communities started to realize the danger of prescribing opioid such as fentanyl which results in a dramatic shift. However, this culture has already taken roots and despite the stoppage of prescription among medical practitioners and physicians, countless individuals are already hooked on the drug. Thousands of Canadians were already addicted to fentanyl and the narcotics have become widely available especially in the black markets.
Withdrawal Syndrome Makes Quitting Impossible
One of the main reasons why Fentanyl addiction is still prevalent among Canadians is the fact that withdrawal symptoms when quitting fentanyl are excruciating and daunting. A lot of people admit that they have tried quitting the habit but it is impossible to go through the initial withdrawal period. Desperate fentanyl addicts avoid withdrawal symptoms and when they could not get hold of fentanyl, heroin or morphine are the most plausible alternatives. Overdoses are also attributed to the high tolerance and dependency possibilities connected to fentanyl use and overconsumption.
Fentanyl and other Drugs Combined
Fentanyl is dangerous in itself and combining this potent synthetic opiate with other narcotics is extremely dangerous and fatal. There are reports of contaminated heroin with fentanyl contents and even fentanyl-laced cocaine. Fentanyl poses an enormous danger to people who are addicted to the drug and even those who are not taking the drug but are exposed to it anyway. Fentanyl overdose results in the respiratory arrest and eventually, death and in January to October 2016 alone, a total of 374 fentanyl-related overdose deaths have been recorded. Juurlink added that in full swing, fentanyl could kill a total of 2,000 individuals in one year.