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

Trucking company fined $175K for Lemon Creek fuel spill

Decision handed down last Friday in Nelson court

Interior Health leading the way with innovative therapy for stroke patients

Percentage of ischemic stroke patients who received treatment has risen dramatically

Missing Nelson woman found dead

Police say there is no evidence of a crime in the death of Heather Gunderson

Foul play involved in Slocan Valley man’s death, police say

RCMP have identified dead man as 47-year-old Aaron Graham

Details emerge on new daycare proposal from school district

Project gets go-ahead from board of SD #10

VIDEO: Wet’suwet’en supporters vow to keep protesting at B.C. legislature

Supporters say they will continue ongoing action to hold government accountable

VIDEO: Province promotes ‘lifting each other up’ on 13th annual Pink Shirt Day

Students, MLAs, community members gathered at B.C. Parliament Buildings Wednesday

Prepare for new coronavirus like an emergency, health minister advises

About 81,000 people around the world have now become ill with COVID-19

B.C. residents in Wet’suwet’en territory have right to police presence: Public Safety Minister

Nevertheless, Bill Blair said officials remain ‘very anxious’ for the barricades to come down

Winnipeg police investigating graffiti on RCMP and other buildings

Manitoba Justice Minister Cliff Cullen denounced the vandalism

B.C. seniors’ watchdog calls for better oversight after recent problems at Retirement Concepts care homes

‘There is no financial incentive right now to be a good operator’ - Isobel Mackenzie

B.C. city rebrands with new logo, cheeky slogan

‘Langford, where it all happens’ is the City’s new slogan

B.C. Liberals call for ban on foreign funds to pipeline protesters

Sierra Club, Wilderness Committee back Coastal GasLink blockades

Donations pour in for family who lost father, son in fatal crash on B.C. highway

Mike Cochlin and sons Liam and Quinn were travelling on Highway 5A

Most Read