The deadly opiate fentanyl is likely present in Revelstoke, though officials have yet to confirm the presence of the drug that is responsible for a massive spike in overdose deaths in B.C.
“I understand that yes, likely people are using fentanyl in Revelstoke,” said Jessica Bridgeman, a regional harm reduction coordinator for Interior Health. “I would say Revelstoke is not much different than any other community. There’s a wide variety of drugs being used on any given day.”
There have been 308 accidental drug overdose deaths in B.C. so far this year, according to the latest report from the BC Coroners Service, which was released on Thursday, June 9.
It’s a 75 per cent increase over the same period in 2015, and 56 per cent of the deaths involve fentanyl.
The BC Liberal government has declared fentanyl a public health emergency. The opiate is considered 100 times more powerful than oxycontin, a synthetic opioid used for pain relief. Fentanyl is a controlled substance that is used as an illegal recreational drug that is considered significantly more dangerous than heroin. Often other drugs are laced with fentanyl to make them more potent.
There have been no deaths connected to fentanyl in Revelstoke.
Staff Sgt. Kurt Grabinsky of the Revelstoke RCMP say police have yet to encounter fentanyl use here, but they have sent several drugs to be tested and are awaiting results.
“It’s a growing concern. We haven’t encountered it a great deal. We know there is abuse of opioids,” he said. “We work hand in hand with BC ambulance service and EHS to address any overdoses we encounter.”
To combat the epidemic, paramedics have been issued naloxone, a drug that works to counter the effects of the opioid.
Bridgeman said naloxone will be made available to opioid users so they have it available at home in case they overdose.
“They can give them that mediation and they can hopefully be brought back to breathing,” she said.