KELOWNA, B.C. — There’s a toxic trend on Kelowna streets.
You’ve most likely heard about the dangerous drug, fentanyl, but according to Kelowna outreach workers it’s showing up in all sorts of recreational intoxicants, including marijuana.
“It’s extremely dangerous,” says Wayne Golling with Inn From the Cold. “People are coming in on a daily basis right now on the edge of overdosing.”
Golling says Inn From the Cold staff have had training to administer naloxone, the prescribed antidote for opiate overdoses, since 2014, but used it for the first time this past December. Since then staff and residents on site have used naloxone eight separate times.
“Two…cases where staff had administered it to somebody, you considered [the patient] clinically dead, because they weren’t breathing and they were totally unconscious,” says Golling. “So without with naloxone actually being administered they would have kept declining and probably died.”
Interior Health doesn’t have statistics on the number of overdoses it deals with in the Okanagan, but officials say they have seen an increase in OD’s in some regions.
“It’s important to know, although we currently do not have a formal system of tracking, we do hear from our emergency department teams when they are experiencing an increase in overdoses,” says Dr. Trevor Corneil, Senior Medical Health Officer with Interior Health. “We use that information to alert and inform our partners in the community and the public.”
Dr. Trevor Corneil says the emergency room at Kelowna General Hospital sees upwards of five overdoses a week.
A B.C. Coroners Service report show a spike in fatal illicit drug overdoses in Kelowna with 17 last year compared to 12 in 2014.
As for fentanyl specifically, the coroners service says there has been a rise in deaths linked to the drug. In 2012 fentanyl was found in only 5 per cent of deadly overdoses but in 2015, that number has climbed up to 30 per cent.