A public warning has been issued to opioid users in Coquitlam about local drug supplies being contaminated with high levels of a deadly tranquilizer called carfentanil.
Fraser Health issued the warning on Jan. 4, stating that “white chunky samples” were circulating in Coquitlam.
“Friends, family and community members using opioids may face increased risk of overdose from both injection and inhalation,” the Fraser Health said.
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Carfentanil is normally used as a veterinary drug to put large animals to sleep, such as elephants.
BC Coroners Service most recent numbers on the province’s illicit drug crisis reported that 101 deaths in 2022 (to Oct. 31), and 190 deaths in 2021, were suspected to be related to the carfentanil contamination.
The provincial government describes carfentanil as looking similar to table salt, and ingesting one or two grains can be fatal. It can be 100 times more potent than fentanyl.
The contaminated test samples were found in a product called “DOWN,” according to Toward the Heart, the province’s harm reduction supplier.
Opioid users are being told by the health authority not to use drugs alone, get their drugs tested, scale back on their dosage and carry a naloxone kit.
Coquitlam drug users can have their drugs tested by the Access Youth Outreach Services Society’s mobile van by calling 604-525-1888, or by visiting the Tri-Cities Public Health Unit located at 200-205 Newport Drive in Port Moody.
Naloxone kits can be picked up at pharmacies, clinics and community organizations across Metro Vancouver.