Vancouver has been known for being one of the most livable cities in the world, but behind the livability and the beauty of the city lies a troubling problem. Fentanyl is a prescribed drug used to treat sudden and ongoing pain, but is now sold on the streets and is responsible for killing hundreds. Since January 2016 to September 2016, 622 people have died from Fentanyl overdoses.

Fentanyl is 100 times stronger than heroin.

Fentanyl tends to be cheap and is an easy option for drug dealers. Some drug dealers sell certain drugs that are laced with fentanyl. Oxycodone and Cocaine are common options for drug dealers to lace Fentanyl with; most of them sell Fentanyl disguised as Oxycodone, Cocaine, etc. This drug isn’t just harming, what some think of as, the ‘typical’ drug addict, it is now branching out to the mainstream and local communities as well. Even more disturbing is the fact that Carfentanil, which is more potent than Fentanyl, is starting to hit communities.

Hampton in recovery in hospital.

In August 2015, an 18-year-old student by the name of Anthony Hampton from Calgary took a pill he thought was OxyContin, but which was fentanyl, or a combination of the two. Anthony was turning blue and wasn’t breathing. He was in the hospital for more than three weeks. An MRI report showed extensive and permanent brain damage. Another disturbing case was in early September there was a cocaine-laced fentanyl overdose in Delta that killed nine people in 20 minutes.

Fentanyl is an opioid that affects Dopamine production in the brain. Each time a person takes the drug, more of the drug is required to release the same amount of dopamine. As the brain becomes more used to achieving the dopamine response from Fentanyl, it no longer responds to normal, pleasurable experiences in the same way. People that are addicted to Fentanyl most likely end up having a physiological dependence on Fentanyl.

One of the concerns with the drug is that it is highly addictive and the withdrawal from the drug is not an easy one. Symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, trouble sleeping, cravings, and extreme levels of sweat are just a few of the withdrawal symptoms from Fentanyl.

There are many solutions to the drug crisis, such as more safe injection sites and readily available Naloxone kits (which counteracts the effects of the drug); however, the solution involves all levels of government, health services and mental health services. The question remains whether all of these agencies can come together and stop people from dying.