In recent years, Canada has been facing large numbers of drug overdoses due to the emergence of a new player that is referred to as fentanyl. Fentanyl (or fentanil) is an opioid that is typically used as a pain killer. The analgesic effects of fentanyl have a rapid onset and generally lasts approximately one to two hours. Although it is great for reducing pain, taking too much of fentanyl can lead to an opioid overdose and result in death. All opioids (like morphine and heroin) can induce addiction and overdose when used in excess, not just fentanyl, however fentanyl seems to be the most popular option to cut street drugs with.
It is no secret that even drug users and sellers are looking to make a profit whenever they can. In these instances, they turn to “cutting” drugs with various substances, like mixing cocaine and baking soda. This way, instead of selling one gram of cocaine for $100, they’re actually selling 0.5 grams of cocaine (and 0.5 grams of baking soda) for $100, an easy $50 profit. It seems the street drug market has turned away from the harmless baking soda hack and switched to a more harmful opioid substance to cut drugs with. In turn, the previous euphoric drug market has turned into a deadly one.
In most cases, drugs are consumed by addicts (keep in mind addiction is listed in the DSM as a mental disorder). Addicts require drugs in order to avoid withdrawal symptoms that feel worse than an overdose. Addicts need their “fix” because feeling high feels better than feeling nothing at all. These addicts will usually empty their life savings, sell their houses, cars, and other possessions, just to purchase the next batch of GHB. There are however, responsible drug users. This may sound like an oxymoron but there are some people who only indulge in drugs, either it being pot, LSD, or cocaine, on a rare occasion, carefully measuring out the appropriate amount and using hygienic methods of ingestion. Even these responsible drug users are at risk of overdose with an enemy like fentanyl.
The Canadian government has recently become aware of the problem that drug abusers face and have proposed an idea to help reduce the number of overdoses. The government has tried drug abstinence by prohibiting the use of these narcotics across all of Canada, however that clearly hasn’t worked. Instead of attempting to convince users not to partake in these illegal activities, the government has recognized that these people will continue to take drugs and the only way to reduce overdoses is to provide a healthy means of engaging in these activities.
If you’ve listened to the radio during the holiday season, you will have heard the program that the government has started in select pharmacies across Canada. If you are a current or previous drug abuser, has family that is a current or previous drug abuser, or have been recently released from a correctional institution, you qualify to pick up a free Naloxone Kit (curtesy of the Trudeau government). Naloxone is a very special drug that inhibits the effects of all opioids. Naloxone is was is referred to as a opioid antagonist that blocks the opioid receptors inside the human body so that drugs like fentanyl cannot be processed. If used immediately after opioid ingestion, Naloxone can reverse overdoses.
Sounds great right? That depends on who you ask. Ask me, and I say, what a wonderful idea. Naloxone kits are the condoms of the drug world. Rather than blindly pushing abstinence, you are providing means of contraception, or in this case safe drug use. However, ask someone else and they may tell you that Naloxone kits are just another excuse to take the blame off the drug abuser and onto the hands of the government. Some even argue that Naloxone kits are excuses for drug abusers to indulge more heavily into these drugs since after all “I’ll just use the Naloxone kit is anything goes wrong.” I don’t particularly agree with that last one because in all honestly, abuser have been doing this a long time and are probably never going to waste their time picking up a Naloxone kit. At the same time, those responsible drug users may believe that they have nothing to worry about since they know their dealer would never buy cut drugs.
So really, who is this Naloxone kit for?