Pubdate: Thu, 08 Mar 2018
Source: Lethbridge Herald (CN AB)
Copyright: 2018 The Lethbridge Herald
Author: Tim Kalinowski
Page: A1



The sheer volume of human suffering has been increasing exponentially
in recent months as a new and deadly wave of opioids scythes through
local drug users and addicts, says Const. Ryan Darroch, a 15-year
veteran of the Lethbridge Police Service, and a beat cop with the
downtown policing unit.

"We have not yet confirmed carfentanil (behind the recent overdoses)
through our lab analysis," he emphasizes, "but we have seized
carfentanil in the city. A lot of the street people we talk to in the
downtown, and all over this city, refer to it as 'Car.' It almost
looks like that candy Nerds. They tell us they take that carfentanil
and mix it with a water solution in those little blue vials people may
see on the streets on the ground. They mix that solution in little
green mixing bowls, and it breaks down the opioid inside that and they
may then draw that solution into a needle and inject it into
themselves. Fentanyl or

carfentanil are depressants which reduce your breathing rate, and
that's where the danger comes in with people passing away."

Darroch confirms he and his fellow downtown unit officers have had to
intervene to aid those in the throes of an overdose on more than one

"We have seen overdoses taking place in a number of different places.
At public places, in motor vehicles - it's really all over the place.
And that's the scary thing about fentanyl or carfentanil: It doesn't
know class. It isn't just one kind of background. It hits everybody
hard all across the city. "In every community and neighbourhood, there
are people addicted to these drugs. I have a few scenes where I have
gone to where I have done CPR, and I have been involved in giving some
Naxolone doses to people, but our primary role is to get EMS there.
They are the experts on this."

Those going through overdoses, or dying, in the city due to their
opioid addictions are never just a statistic to the officers who
respond to the calls, says Darroch.

"As a beat cop you get to build relationships with people," he says.
"You know them. You know their first names. You know what has happened
in their lives recently which has led them into a negative situation.
It is different when you get to help these people because it is not
just a stranger ... When referencing our Naxolone usage, I have talked
to people on the street who say they have been hit with Naxolone more
than 30-plus times. Lots of times we will find people with blue lips
or pale-coloured skin because their hearts are still beating, and they
are basically having their hearts beating at a very high rate inside,
but they are not getting the air into their lungs. In an overdose your
heart keeps beating, but you are not getting the oxygen into your
blood system."

The street costs of the drugs also keep escalating, confirms Darroch.
Fentanyl, "Shady 80" or "Beans" as it is called in street lingo, used
to be the premium drug in Lethbridge until last year, and it now goes
for $30-$40 per point (0.1 grams) and methamphetamine, another drug of
choice among street users, goes for about $10 per point. Carfentanil,
in contrast, goes for about $40-$60 per point and many users need to
shoot up multiple times per day, states Darroch.

"So you are looking at an addiction where you need $200-$300 per day
to feed," he says. "If you are unemployed, or exhausted all of your
financial means in life, your only option is to step out and possibly
look at doing some property crime. This addiction, and our current
drug crisis, has a trickle-down effect into our community."

Darroch is hopeful the new Supervised Consumption Site in the city
will help. He knows the tide of drugs flowing into the city can be
stemmed by he and his fellow officers, but can never be stopped
entirely. Lethbridge is in need of new options.

"With policing, things are always changing, and this (opioid crisis)
is just another thing we have to adapt to and overcome," he says. "And
we have already seen a positive impact in the community (from this
supervised consumption site). The preliminary numbers of needles are
down at some places like the library. We have worked hard with the
library to move people involved in that negative lifestyle away from
there. That is one of the pillars of our community, and we want to
make that safe for everyone. That Supervised Consumption Site has
nothing but a positive impact for the community."
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