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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.


  • Island Health - Drug Poisoning Overdose Advisory - Port AlberniMarch 23, 2023 • Posted by Island Health

    ***Drug Poisoning Overdose Advisory Extended - Port Alberni - March 23, 2023***

    Overdoses are increasing in Port Alberni from opioids and stimulants, increased risk with both injection and inhalation. 

    Click here for the poster.

    Strategies for safer use: 

    • Visit Port Alberni Overdose Prevention Services (OPS)
      • 3699 3rd Ave (off Bute St), Port Alberni (daily from 8am-8pm)
    • Have your drugs checked at your local OPS
      • 3699 3rd Ave (off Bute St), Port Alberni (daily from 8am-4pm) Sample drop off when staff avaliable 
    • Carry Naloxone and have an overdose response plan
    • Do a tester; try a little before your regular hit
    • Fix with a friend; if alone, be close to help:
      • Try the LifeguardApp on your phone
      • Contact the National Overdose Response Service at 1-888-688-6677
    • Stagger your use with a friend, so someone can respond if needed 
  • Northern Health - Drug Alert - Prince GeorgeMarch 21, 2023 • Posted by Northern Health

    ***Drug Alert - PRINCE GEORGE- March 21, 2023***

    There has been a significant increase in overdose events in Prince George, resulting from two distinct substances. The first substance, known as "down," is a light brown/beige color and has been causing prolonged sedation, breathing difficulties, strange behavior, and blackouts. Testing shows it contains high levels of fentanyl (15-20%) and tested positive for benzodiazepine. The second substance is purple in color and has also been linked to overdoses. Testing and further information on this substance is currently unavailable.

    Click here for poster. 

    Local overdose prevention site (OPS)

    • Two Doors Down, 1126 3rd Ave, Prince George
      Hours: Tuesday to Saturday, 6 am to 11 am and 6 pm to 11 pm
    • Northern Health Needle Exchange and Harm Reduction Clinic (OPS/APP), 277 George St, Prince Georg

    Story alert link:

    Printable story alert link:

    Substances move throughout our region and may be present in your community so please share this alert widely and use with caution following the harm reduction messages below.

    For your safety

    • Get overdose prevention, recognition, and response training; carry naloxone
    • Don’t use alone. Make a plan and tell a buddy who can call for help if needed
    • If you plan to use alone, use the Lifeguard or BeSafe app available free on the app store or on Toward the Heart website
    • Know your tolerance. If you are sick or had a time of abstinence or reduced use, use much less
    • Don't mix drugs or mix drugs with alcohol
    • Test a small amount first and go slow
    • Use in an Overdose Prevention Site (OPS) if possible (see Terrace location listed below)
    • Get your drugs checked at the Terrace OPS (see hours below)
    • Call 9-1-1 or your local emergency number right away if someone overdoses


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.