Island drug users have new tool to detect potentially fatal fentanyl

·2 min read
The strips can’t tell the amount of fentanyl in a drug, but will tell the user if it is present. (Tony Davis/CBC - image credit)
The strips can’t tell the amount of fentanyl in a drug, but will tell the user if it is present. (Tony Davis/CBC - image credit)

Prince Edward Islanders who use opioids can now get drug testing strips to check their drugs for fentanyl.

The free strips are being offered by PEERS Alliance, a group that promotes harm reduction strategies to people who use drugs.

Tessa Rogers, the group's street outreach worker, said P.E.I. is at the point where users should assume every street drug has some trace of fentanyl, which can be deadly even in tiny amounts.

The strips can't tell the amount of fentanyl in a drug, but will tell the user if it is present.

PEERS Alliance also gives out naloxone, a drug that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.

Recovering addicts say these tools are important to keep Islanders safe.

"I think it's a great idea," said Andrea Donaldson.

"I think it should have been more accessible in the past, but it's a great step in the present, and for the future I think it will prevent a lot of overdoses because a lot of people overdosing on fentanyl are not fentanyl users and think they are purchasing something other than fentanyl."

A post has been circulating on a social media page from a self-identified drug user warning others about tainted drugs in Charlottetown.

Tony Davis/CBC
Tony Davis/CBC

Rogers said PEERS Alliance can also help get the word out.

"If folks are comfortable with it, like we absolutely love when folks come to us and let us know, so that we can, you know, in real time we can use our social media, kind of push that out, talk to community members we're aware of."

RCMP say they have been hearing reports about fentanyl in cocaine in western P.E.I.

But no drugs police have sent for testing recently have come back positive.

Police say there have been some overdoses recently but won't know if fentanyl played a part until autopsies are done.

Rogers offers this advice to people using drugs:

"Try to use with somebody else that you trust. If you do not have somebody and you can't identify someone, use the national overdose response service, have naloxone on hand and test your substances."

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