In April 2016, the province of British Columbia declared overdoses a public health emergency. The rates of overdoses in B.C. and in Fraser Health are dramatically on the rise to levels never seen before. The B.C. Coroners Service reported that there were 922 illicit drug overdose deaths from January to December 2016 in the province. Overdoses are occurring in all sectors of our communities, at all ages across all social statuses. Overdose is complicated, it is impacted by general health, environmental conditions, the substance taken and what else is also taken at the same time.
What is Fentanyl?
Fentanyl is a substance that has been found in an increased number of overdose deaths. It is a synthetic opioid, 50-100 times more toxic than morphine. Pharmaceutical fentanyl is used medically as a pain killer or anaesthetic. There has been an increase in recent years in illicitly produced fentanyl being sold as tablets, powder and cut into other drugs.
What is W-18?
W-18 is a synthetic drug that appears to have had pain reducing effects in lab tests on mice. It has been detected in some illegal drugs in B.C. and Alberta. The exact drug profile for W-18 is not well-established and we do not yet have reliable data on its effect on humans. Naloxone should be given in the event of overdose involving W-18, because other substances including opioids may be present.
Fraser Health is responding through a multi-pronged approach to reduce the number of opioid drug overdoses in the region. We are enhancing surveillance and utilization of overdose data to inform our response. We are ramping up overdose awareness and education and working closely with community partners on overdose prevention and response. We are enhancing our harm reduction services as well as substance use services and supports. We are also working to improve access to and administration of naloxone (Narcan), a safe medication that can reverse the effects of an overdose of an opioid drug.
What can you do?
Become aware of how to prevent, recognize and respond to an overdose. Anyone who uses substances can be at risk for overdose. You may not know that someone you love is using substances, by learning more you could potentially save their lives.
- Tips for Preventing an Overdose
- Recognizing an Overdose
- Responding to an Overdose
- Where can you get Naloxone
- Overdose Planning for your Organization
If you have questions about Fraser Health’s response to the Opioid Overdose Emergency, please contact us at email@example.com