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Creating drug awareness can slow opioid crisis

RCMP Const. Ben Stubbe led a fentanyl and carfentanil information session Thursday at the Fort Macleod and District Community Hall.

Informing people of the danger of fentanyl and carfentanil is the best way to stop the opioid crisis in southern Alberta.
That was the message delivered Thursday by RCMP Const. Ben Stubbe.
“Our best weapon is information,” Stubbe said during his presentation at the Fort Macleod and District Community Hall.
Recent reports show 582 people in Alberta died from fentanyl overdoses between Jan. 1 and Nov. 11, 2018.
Four hundred and 63 Albertans died from opioid overdoses in 2017.
Stubbe said the RCMP has worked hard to target the deadly drugs’ dealers in Fort Macleod, but citizens also have a role to play.
That involves creating awareness among family and friends that the risks of using fentanyl and carfentanil are too high.
In his presentation to about 30 people Stubbe gave an overview of the effects of fentanyl and identified risks associated with fentanyl and carfentanil.
Stubbe also described the features of an overdose from both drugs and how they should be treated.
“Fentanyl is a very potent drug,” Stubbe said, noting when used as prescribed by a physician it is safe.
Fentanyl, an opioid pain killer in the same class as codeine, morphine and oxycodone, is 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine.
Carfentanil, which was developed as an animal tranquilizer and never intended for human use, is 100 times stronger than fentanyl.
Stubbe said because street fentanyl is not manufactured in a controlled lab environment there is no way to know how much of the drug is in a pill.
He compared it to not being able to evenly divide chocolate chips when making cookies.
Fentanyl can be taken orally, smoked, snorted and injected. People overdose when they get a bad dose of fentanyl.
“They’re not intentionally trying to overdose,” Stubbe said. “They’re trying to get that high.”
Stubbe said it is not uncommon that other drugs, including cocaine, marijuana and crystal meth, can be laced with fentanyl without the user’s knowledge.
The popularity of street fentanyl is due in part to its relatively low price.
“You get more fentanyl for your dollar than you would heroin,” Stubbe said.
When someone is overdosing on fentanyl, someone should call 911 and administer naloxone.
Stubbe was asked by an audience member what Fort Macleod can do to combat the opioid crisis.
“I believe it starts with awarenesss,” Stubbe said.
Information sessions such as the one at the community hall, along with presentations to students, make people aware of the risks of using street drugs.
The information session was hosted by Fort Macleod Family and Community Support Services (FCSS) in partnership with the Fort Macleod Crime Prevention Advisory Committee, Fort Macleod Drug Coalition and the 2309 Fort Macleod Army Cadets.
FCSS director Angie O’Connor said resources are available at the Foothills Centre and the Fort Macleod Health Centre.

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