Fentanyl use and distribution has exploded in Canada over the last 12 months, and it’s going to get worse before it gets better, says a new RCMP report examining the deadly drug.
And fentanyl is just the tip of the iceberg, the report, called Fentanyl and Beyond: Evolutions in the Canadian Illicit Opioid Market says.
“While fentanyl continues to pose a high-level threat, the illicit opioid market writ large is evolving at an alarming rate and significantly raising the risk/threat level.”
Fentanyl’s analogues, or variations, have increased in number and potency over the last year, along with non-fentanyl opioids like W-18 that have emerged, and will continue to grow for the next 12 to 18 months, the report says.
The report says that measures like increasing access to naloxone, increased opioid reporting and early-warning systems will help stem the increase in fentanyl distribution, but won’t stop the market for the drug from increasing.
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The practice of drug producers and traffickers cutting their product with supplemental substances is not new. But the use of fentanyl and other opioids to do so is not only uncommonly deadly, it can also clearly trace its roots to the “the national crisis of prescription painkiller abuse, and associated medical prescribing practices.”
Fentanyl as a cutting agent can have tragic consequences.
Many who die from fentanyl overdoses have no idea they are consuming it. Last year a young B.C. couple, described as healthy and hardworking, died after consuming fentanyl-laced drugs during a weekend of partying, leaving behind a young son.
Where is it coming from?
China remains the “pivotal source” of fentanyl and other opioids supplying drug traffickers in Canada, according to the report. The Internet makes it all too easy to find the drugs and place an order.
“Anchored between domestic criminal entities and those based in China, the Internet – via the surface web and the dark web – continues to serve as the main gateway for a thriving, open illicit opioid marketplace in Canada.”