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Fentanyl

Fentanyl is a synthetic (man-made) opioid that is more toxic than most other opioids, and can be prescribed by a physician to help control severe pain. Fentanyl is also being produced in illegal labs and sold on the streets, often mixed with other drugs. Increasingly, fentanyl is being detected in overdose deaths in BC.

About Fentanyl

Why is fentanyl dangerous?

Fentanyl is around 20 to 40 times more toxic than heroin and 50 to 100 times more toxic than morphine, which makes the risk of accidental overdose higher. When fentanyl is combined with other opioids (like heroin, morphine, methadone or codeine), alcohol, benzodiazepines, or cocaine or methamphetamines, it can further increase the risk of accidental overdose. Combining substances (including alcohol), intentionally or unintentionally, increases overdose risk.  It’s also important to be aware that drugs other than fentanyl can also be lethal, and that there is no quality control or regulated manufacturing process for illegal drugs.

Where is it coming from?

Illicit fentanyl is manufactured in clandestine overseas drug labs, both overseas and in Canada. It may be cut into powders or pressed into pills prior to being sold.

Where is it found?

Fentanyl is sometimes sold as fentanyl but other illegal drugs can also contain it, including heroin, cocaine, oxycodone, crack or meth. It may be in drugs that are in powder, liquid or pill form.

These drugs may contain toxic contaminants or have different levels of fentanyl in each batch. Even pills produced in the same batch may have little to lethal levels of fentanyl.

What can you do?

Be aware that drugs obtained from anywhere other than a pharmacy or a hospital may not be what you think they are, or what others believe them to be.

Learn how to  recognize and respond to a drug overdose.

See our tips for safer substance use.

Alerts

  • RADAR - Drug Checking Alert - Vancouver DTESNovember 25, 2020 • Posted by Toward the Heart

    RADAR Drug Checking Alert - Vancouver Downtown Eastside

    Purple and brown pebbles sold as down tested positive for fentanyl and benzos. 

    Use at any OPS/SCS - they are safe and open. 

    www.vch.ca/overdose 

    **************************

    Check your drugs for Benzos!

    • Benzos have been found by drug checking in many different colours of down
    • Benzos can cause blackouts and memory loss and may increase the risk of overdose
    • Get your drugs checked for benzos at any overdose prevention site in Vancouver
    • Check out the website for more information on where to check your drugs: www.vch.ca/drugchecking
    • Use with a buddy or at an overdose prevention site or supervised consumption site

    For more info, please visit: www.vch.ca/overdose 

    CLICK HERE FOR POSTER

    Please note!

    • Benzo overdoses look similar to opioid overdoses – slow / no breathing, slurred speech, loss of balance and coordination 
    • Naloxone does not work on Benzos, BUT will temporarily reverse opioid effects if the person has taken both benzos and opioids – when in doubt, use naloxone!
    • When someone has taken both benzos and opioids, the person may not wake up after naloxone injection, but may begin breathing normally
    • If the person is breathing normally but remains unconscious, place in recovery position and stay with them until emergency services arrive
  • Vancouver Coastal - Drug Checking Alert - VancouverNovember 05, 2020 • Posted by Toward the Heart

    Check your drugs for Benzos!

    • Benzos have been found by drug checking in many different colours of down
    • Benzos can cause blackouts and memory loss and may increase the risk of overdose
    • Get your drugs checked for benzos at any overdose prevention site in Vancouver
    • Check out the website for more information on where to check your drugs: www.vch.ca/drugchecking
    • Use with a buddy or at an overdose prevention site or supervised consumption site

    For more info, please visit: www.vch.ca/overdose 

    CLICK HERE FOR POSTER

    Please note!

    • Benzo overdoses look similar to opioid overdoses – slow / no breathing, slurred speech, loss of balance and coordination 
    • Naloxone does not work on Benzos, BUT will temporarily reverse opioid effects if the person has taken both benzos and opioids – when in doubt, use naloxone!
    • When someone has taken both benzos and opioids, the person may not wake up after naloxone injection, but may begin breathing normally
    • If the person is breathing normally but remains unconscious, place in recovery position and stay with them until emergency services arrive

Resources

Know Your Source

Know Your Source

A fentanyl campaign from public health and law enforcement agencies. 

Opioid Overdose Awareness

Opioid Overdose Awareness

Our web page features risks, signs and how to respond.