Local police warned parents over the ongoing dangers of fentanyl and other drugs at a meeting in New Glasgow Wednesday night organized by Nova Scotia Crime Stoppers.
The police info session comes as Nova Scotia RCMP laid 10 fentanyl-related charges against suspects in 2017, up from just four in 2015.
Fentanyl is an opioid painkiller 100 times more powerful than morphine that causes an intense high in drug users within seconds, but just two milligrams of the substance can kill.
“The fentanyl crisis is here. It is not going anywhere for a little while,” said RCMP officer Wayne Bent.
Originally developed both as an anaesthetic and to treat people in severe pain, fentanyl is now used by drug dealers to cut other drugs such as heroin or pills, or sold in its pure form.
Cutting pills is especially dangerous, as one tablet may be taken without any ill effects, but another may contain a ‘hot spot’ of fentanyl that can kill.
Drug users and dealers obtain illicit fentanyl by stealing other people’s prescriptions, breaking into pharmacies, sifting through dumpsters, or importing the drug from China and other foreign locales.
People can take the drug through skin patches, injections, orally in pill form or it can be inhaled as a fine spray. This last method can potentially contaminate an entire room with drug residue.
Fentanyl overdoses kill drug users by attacking the nervous system and blocking receptors that regulate breathing.
Symptoms of fentanyl overdose include drowsiness, pinpoint pupils, mood changes, dizziness, nausea, vomiting and breathing trouble.
Anyone who sees a person suffering from a suspected overdose should immediately dial 911 for an ambulance, flush the skin and eyes if necessary and remove the person from a contaminated area such as an indoor room.
CPR should be performed if there is no pulse. Vomiting must not be induced.
Bent said that all RCMP officers carry Narcan (Naloxone) an antidote used to treat fentanyl overdoses.
He added that anyone who dabbles in drugs themselves can call 911 to help an overdose victim without fear of prosecution under Nova Scotia’s ‘Good Samaritan’ law.
However, such measures may not be enough to save people from W-18 (carfentanyl) overdoses.
This drug is 100 times more powerful than fentanyl and was actually used as a weapon by Russian security forces against terrorists during a 2002 theatre hostage crisis in Moscow.
The W-18 vapour killed 33 terrorists and 125 hostages in a botched rescue operation.
Back home, both the RCMP and New Glasgow Regional Police remain on guard against drug trafficking of fentanyl and other substances.
In 2017, NGRP laid 97 charges against 31 people and seized $514,000 worth of drugs and cash, according to Sgt. Ryan Leil.
Common drugs include cocaine, meth, ecstasy and cannabis.
“We need the community to speak to us,” said Leil.
One such community member was Pictou Landing resident Jennifer Sims, who worried about her 12-year-old son and nine-year-old daughter being exposed to things they cannot handle.
She said that fentanyl and other drugs were serious problems for youth but many people remain unaware of how deadly they can be.
“The fact that kids can engage in a game trying to put Tide Pods in their mouths says that their brains are wired for experimentation,” said Sims.
Other threats to youth include bullying, cyber-harassment and improper use of social media.
NGRP Const. Ken MacDonald urged parents to be involved with their children’s lives, be open with them and compliment them on any positive steps they take, however small.
“The majority of people are making safe and responsible decisions,” he said.