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Fatal drug overdoses spike in Peterborough in 2017

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There were 6 overdose deaths in Peterborough in December. That brings to 20, the number of overdose deaths in the city in 2017 - up from 14 in 2016 – Jan 4, 2018

There were six suspected accidental fatal drug overdoses in Peterborough in December, according to police. That brings the number of deaths in the city to 20 for all of 2017.

In 2016, there were 14 deaths.

“We have found fentanyl in every street drug, except marijuana in Peterborough. If someone is using cocaine, it can be cut with fentanyl, and it will be in Peterborough and you can overdose,” said Tim Farquharson, Deputy Chief of Peterborough Police.

READ MORE: Surge of opioid overdose deaths cuts U.S. life expectancy

Last year, there were 168 calls to the police for service for suspected overdoses, police said. In 44 of those incidents, Narcan or naloxone, a tool used by first responders to save lives, was used.

“It’s a Band-Aid solution. We continue to give out the Narcan kits to the most vulnerable population with no strategy in place to work through it and go through the clean route,” said Chris Barry, Deputy Chief of Peterborough Paramedics.

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Police say the problem appears to be getting worse with the introduction of the deadly drug carfentanil onto the streets of Peterborough.

In October, police seized carfentanil at a traffic stop.  Police say they knew it was here, but it was the first time it was seized in the city.

“The lethal dose of fentanyl is between two to three milligrams.  That’s 100 times stronger than morphine.  Carfentanil is 10,000 times stronger.  You’re into the 20 microgram level.  Like a grain of salt,” added Farquharson.

READ MORE: Peterborough Police warn public after first seizure of deadly carfentanil

Police are advising the public to call 911 if there is a suspected overdose. They say they’re concerned with saving a life and won’t lay any charges.

There will be an opioid conference in Toronto in May. Several Peterborough-based agencies are planning to attend the conference to learn about strategies for dealing with the opioid crisis.