Kitimat not immune from spike in fentanyl use seen across province

Kitimat has seen overdoses of its own relating to fentanyl, a drug which has the provincial health ministry on alert.

The Ministry of Health is warning the public about an epidemic of drug use and overdoses connected to fentanyl, a manufactured drug that is said to be up to 100-times more toxic than other opiod-type drugs.

In this case though it’s not just a city problem, and Kitimat has already been hit through suspected fentanyl overdoses over the past 12 months.

As recently as May this year, the Kitimat RCMP were warning the public of fentanyl-laced “oxycotin” pills in the community, which resulted in an overdose to a 39-year-old male on May 17.

That followed a report of two overdoses in one week in March, which then-staff sergeant Phil Harrison said were believed to be linked to fake oxycotin due to the presence of pills branded in a way common to fentanyl laced products at the time: blue colour with the letters CDN pressed on one side and the number 80 on the other.

In one case the person who had overdosed was found near 45 such pills, but the RCMP couldn’t conclude at the time if there was intent to traffic them.

Deputy Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says the issue of this specific drug problem is challenging, noting that they’re trying to reach both habitual drug users and people who are just casual, recreational users.

“Some of those people who may not be as aware of the source of their drugs,” said Henry.

She also points out that “smaller communities are not immune,” to the problem, even as the majority of overdoses have been in the Lower Mainland.

The Harm Reduction Lead at the BC Centre for Disease Control Dr. Jane Buxton says that anonymous surveys of drug users have found traces of fentanyl in people who did not report having taken any, pointing to the risk of consuming illicit drugs which, of course, have no kinds of quality control.

Many people are not aware they are taking fentanyl,” said Buxton.

Henry said there haven’t been any reported overdoses at work camp sites in northern B.C., responding to questioning if there is a problem in such facilities. She said there are known social issues related to work camps but so far no reported overdoses in those facilities.

Henry says there are some tips people can follow that can minimize risk for people who do use illicit drugs. That includes making a plan that someone is able to contact 9-1-1 if there is an emergency, having access to sterile syringes if their injecting themselves, and to inject slowly in case there are unexpected reactions or if the dose itself turns out to be more potent than expected.

Users can also learn about the Take Home Naloxone kits, which are anti-overdose kits designed to reverse the effects of an opiod overdose. That includes heroin and morphine. Information on that is online at towardtheheart.com/naloxone.

There are harm reduction centres across the province as well, including at the health unit at the Kitimat General Hospital, where people can learn about the Take Home Naloxone program.

Underlying this drug problem is the need to discuss it. Having in the open will lead to solutions that can’t found by ignoring it.

“By ignoring it…the stigma that’s attached can make people use in a very unsafe manner,” said Buxton. “I think the conversation needs to be started, and it’s finding someone in the community who is respected but has perspective to share to get the conversation going.”

 

Just Posted

Kitimat’s Water Quality Advisory, which has been in place for just over a week, has been lifted. (Black Press file photo)
Water Quality Advisory in Kitimat lifted

The district has been under a Water Quality Advisory since June 2

On June 16 at 6 p.m., the Kitimat Chamber of Commerce will be hosting a public presentation and discussion with Happipad, a social enterprise, to talk about solutions for affordable housing Kitimat. (Happipad photo)
Affordable housing to be focus of Kitimat Chamber of Commerce meeting

Figures indicate the average Kitimat household needs to make more than $92,000 a year

(District of Kitimat logo)
Hirsch Creek Bridge restricted to single lane traffic

The district is restricting the bridge traffic to legal highway loads only

Artist’s illustration of the proposed Kitimat LNG facility at Bish Cove near Kitimat. (Kitimat LNG illustration)
Haisla Nation surprised by Woodside pull out from Kitimat LNG project

Haisla Nation council states its main focus is now on developing the Haisla-led Cedar LNG project

(Northern Health logo)
Pop-up vaccine clinic tomorrow at the Save-on-Foods parking lot in Kitimat

The clinic will be this Friday, June 11 from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Premier John Horgan speaks as provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, right, and health minister Adrian Dix look on during a press conference to update on the province’s fall pandemic preparedness plan during a press conference from the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials to provide details on Step 2 of COVID reopening plan Monday

Step 2 could allow for larger gatherings and a resumption of recreational travel

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Most Read