Pubdate: Thu, 21 Dec 2017
Source: Simcoe Reformer, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 Sun Media
Author: Monte Sonnenberg
Page: A1


Narcotics back in the day were more a nuisance than anything

Local police would regularly arrest people for possession of
marijuana. Sometimes something more exotic like psychedelic mushrooms
would materialize.

The situation became more of a concern when cocaine and its
derivatives appeared on the scene. Then came methamphetamine and
opioids such as Oxycontin and hydromorphone.

Heroin was never an issue locally like it has been in urban

Instead, rural areas like Norfolk and Haldimand skipped straight to
more problematic substances such as fentanyl and carfentanil. These
powerful synthetic opioids have caused the number of drug overdose
deaths in Canada to skyrocket in recent months.

Authorities have known for some time that fentanyl is a problem in the
local area. But confirmation this weekend that carfentanil has arrived
is a game changer.

Carfentanil is a tranquilizer for large animals such as elephants. It
is 100 times more potent than fentanyl, 4,000 times more potent than
heroin, and 10,000 times more powerful than morphine.

A few grains of carfentanil accidentally inhaled can be fatal. Since
it was identified in Ontario, police executing search warrants
involving illegal drugs wear long sleeves, protective glasses, thick
rubber gloves, and face masks.

"They're much the same as you would see a drywaller wear," Staff Sgt.
Joe Varga said at Wednesday's meeting of the Norfolk Police Services

Carfentanil came up for discussion because the sample seized in
Norfolk was located Oct. 6. Health Canada confirmed it was carfentanil
last week.

PSB chair Peter Hellyer, of Simcoe, was surprised it takes so long to
get test results on such a potentially dangerous substance. "Two
months is probably the average," Varga said. "Health Canada has
thousands and thousands of samples to test on a priority basis."

The Haldimand-Norfolk health unit has also taken notice.

Carfentanil, public health nurse Tamara Robb said in a news release
Tuesday, "is a very dangerous drug."

"It's particularly dangerous because it can easily be mixed with other
drugs such as cocaine. People using may not even be aware they are
using something laced with carfentanil. it's especially important for
the public to recognize what an opioid overdose looks like and to know
where to get a naloxone kit."

Naloxone is a safe, easy-to-administer antidote that temporarily
reverses the effects of an opioid overdose.

Overdose symptoms include loss of consciousness, inability to speak,
slow, erratic breathing, breathing that has stopped, choking sounds,
limbs that have gone limp, blue or purplish black fingernails and
lips, and a heart beat that is slow and erratic or

Light-skinned individuals who have overdosed will turn a bluish purple
colour. dark skinned individuals will turn grayish or ashen.

"If you find someone unresponsive but are unsure what substance they
may have used, call 911 and administer naloxone," Robb says.

"Naloxone is a safe medication and can be life-saving. It's vital to
call 911 because naloxone is only a temporary fix. The person could go
back into an overdose state when the naloxone wears off."
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