Pubdate: Tue, 26 Apr 2016
Source: Metro (Edmonton, CN AB)
Copyright: 2016 Metro Canada
Author: Kevin Maimann
Page: 1


Many Users Are Skipping Over Gateway Drugs

An Edmonton addictions specialist says an increasing number of teens 
are skipping booze and pot and jumping straight to hard drugs such as fentanyl.

"We've never been this busy," said Metro City Medical Clinic's 
medical director, Dr. Hakique Virani. "One of the differences we're 
seeing today (versus) four to six years ago is the number of young 
people who come in looking for treatment because they're addicted to 
opioids - including fentanyl - never having used marijuana, never 
having drank alcohol."

Virani said his methadone clinic has patients who are "fresh out of 
high school" and have been using for upward of four years.

He attributes the spike to availability and affordability. Fentanyl 
is brought cheaply from China and sold as Oxy-Contin, heroin, Xanax 
and potentially as lace in cocaine and methamphetamine.

In Edmonton, pills containing fentanyl can go for $20-25 apiece.

"You call your weed guy, he's got other things. And amongst those 
other things are opiates. And not only are they widely available, but 
they're also remarkably cheap," Virani said.

"The quantities that are required to keep a dependent population 
dependent are much smaller when you're dealing with fentanyl or W-18 
than when you're dealing with heroin or morphine or prescription opioids."

Fentanyl has been blamed for hundreds of deaths in Alberta in the 
past two years. Virani said he is "very concerned" that W-18 - even 
more toxic - will become more prevalent.

The province has said it will announce a multi-year strategy to 
combat the crisis, but Virani said officials need to work faster and 
focus more on preventative measures. "I'm losing my patience with how 
long it's taking ... when all the evidence is there."
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom