People knowingly take fentanyl so make policy changes to reduce harm: B.C. study

Dr. Jane Buxton, an epidemiologist at the centre, says drug users need more resources,

A study suggests illicit drug users in B.C. are knowingly using the potentially deadly opioid fentanyl so making them aware of its presence in the drug supply isn’t enough.

The study by the BC Centre for Disease Control and the University of B.C. calls for policy changes to reduce the risk of harm for people who know or don’t know they’re take the powerful opioid.

The study published this week in the International Journal of Drug Policy is based on a 2018 survey of 303 people who accessed services at 27 harm-reduction sites.

It says 60 per cent of participants had fentanyl in their urine and of those, 64 per cent knew they had used fentanyl, double the number from a similar study in 2015.

The previous study found 29 per cent of people tested positive for fentanyl, with only 27 per cent of those aware that they’d used it.

Dr. Jane Buxton, an epidemiologist at the centre, says drug users need more resources, including treatment and alternatives to the toxic drug supply to reduce the devastating impact of fentanyl.

Drug users were unaware of fentanyl’s presence in street drugs such as heroin as overdose deaths started increasing in 2015, prompting the B.C. government to declare a public health emergency the following year. An estimated 5,000 people have fatally overdosed since then.

‘LIKE AN ATM’: World’s first biometric opioid-dispensing machine launches in B.C.

The centre says fentanyl is 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine and the BC Coroners Services says the synthetic opioid or its analogues, such as carfentinil, were found in 85 per cent of fatal overdoses last year.

Researchers do not fully understand why people knowingly take fentanyl but say some people may have no other choice because it’s present in most of the illicit drug supply.

They say others may prefer the experience of taking fentanyl regardless of other options.

“This research lays groundwork that will help us learn more about why fentanyl use is increasing,” says Mohammad Karamouzian, lead author of the study and a PhD student at the University of B.C.’s school of population and public health.

“These findings will also contribute to more effective messaging campaigns and harm reduction strategies to help reduce preventable deaths and support the health of people who use substances, their families, and their communities,” he says.

About 375 harm-reduction sites in B.C. provide a range of services for drug users.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

opioids

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Smoky skies clearing throughout B.C. Interior

Environment Canada expects “widespread” improvement for all affected areas by Sunday

Penticton wildfire crew goes from Christie Mountain to Cold Springs

The team at Eagle Ridge Consulting is helping fight fires across the border

Interior Health reports three additional COVID-19 cases in region

The number of cases in the region since the beginning of the pandemic are now at 492

‘This is a very difficult sentencing’; Judge delays Kiera Bourque manslaughter trial to next week

The courts heard Friday that Bourque “did not intend to cause harm” but that her actions were “reckless”

COVID-19 minimizes Okanagan Regional Library budget increase

Library adapts to pandemic fiscal disruptions

3 new deaths due to COVID-19 in B.C., 139 new cases

B.C. confirms 40 ‘historic cases,’ as well

Stranger in truck grabs boy walking home from school in Kelowna

The 11-year-old boy escaped the incident, RCMP are investigating

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies at 87

The court’s second female justice, died Friday at her home in Washington

Emaciated grizzly found dead on central B.C. coast as low salmon count sparks concern

Grizzly was found on Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw territory in Smith Inlet, 60K north of Port Hardy

VIDEO: B.C. to launch mouth-rinse COVID-19 test for kids

Test involves swishing and gargling saline in mouth and no deep-nasal swab

Young Canadians have curtailed vaping during pandemic, survey finds

The survey funded by Heart & Stroke also found the decrease in vaping frequency is most notable in British Columbia and Ontario

B.C. teachers file Labour Relations Board application over COVID-19 classroom concerns

The application comes as B.C.’s second week of the new school year comes to a close

CHARTS: Beyond Metro Vancouver, COVID-19 cases in B.C. haven’t increased much recently

COVID-19 case counts outside of Metro Vancouver have been level since July

70-year-old punched in the head in dispute over disability parking space in Nanaimo

Senior’s turban knocked off in incident at mall parking lot

Most Read