CALGARY – It’s known on the street as green beans, green jellies or street Oxy—which is why some people can be confused as to what it is.
“A lot of people taking it the first time think it’s an Oxycodone pill,” said Brad Oneil, from Central United Church’s Recovery Calgary program. “Within the last eight weeks I’ve had two people—which is a significant number in my program—that are dealing with fentanyl abuse. It’s getting to be a growing problem.”
It’s a problem that took the life of 19-year-old Calgarian Rory McCann.
Rory’s dad, Kelly McCann, said he heard his son’s alarm going off one day, and opened his bedroom door to find him “in distress.”
“I started CPR until fire and ambulance got here… they lost him…got him back,” said McCann.
“We were told there was no chance of meaningful recovery because of the brain damage, and we had to remove life support. That’s something no parent should ever, ever have to do.”
Rory’s mom, Sparla McCann, said she has a lot of anger towards the drug dealers who sold fentanyl to her son.
“We believe he thought he was getting Oxy when he took the drug,” she said. “It’s absolutely devastating and I want him back and I just think it’s a senseless way to go.”
Prior to 2014, Alberta Law Enforcement Response Teams (ALERT) said no fentanyl had been seized. A few weeks ago, ALERT scooped up 11,600 pills—its largest fentanyl seizure to date.
Provincial data suggests fentanyl-related deaths are increasing: there were six deaths in Alberta in 2011; 29 in 2012; then 66 in 2013 and 61 last year.
Pharmacists say the drug is so addictive and potent, that many stores don’t even stock it.
“It is 100 times higher than morphine in potency, and it’s also 20 times more potent than heroin,” said My Hoang from The Medicine Shoppe Pharmacy.
The McCanns are motivated by the loss of their son to help educate and treat people who are using such drugs. The family is holding a fundraiser March 21 at Schanks South, with proceeds going to the Central United Church Recovery ministry and the Renfrew Recovery Centre.