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Saskatchewan police issue warning after recent fatal overdoses

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Saskatchewan police issue warning after recent fatal overdoses
In a Jan. 1 press release, Swift Current RCMP said officers responded to two fatal overdoses involving suspected fentanyl; a 30-year-old man died Dec. 29, and a 27-year-old man died Dec. 31 – Jan 5, 2023

The Saskatchewan RCMP have issued a warning after two fatal overdoses occurred in Swift Current last week.

In a Jan. 1 press release, Swift Current RCMP said officers responded to two fatal overdoses involving suspected fentanyl; a 30-year-old man died Dec. 29, and a 27-year-old man died Dec. 31.

“The two men did not consume the same substances. One substance is a green powder; the other substance consists of clear or white crystals,” police stated.

“The two substances did not look like regular fentanyl and may not have been sold as fentanyl. However, police field tests of both substances detected the presence of fentanyl.”

The Saskatchewan Coroner’s Report up to Nov. 30 says there have been 395 drug toxicity deaths in the province, 171 of those are total confirmed drug toxicity deaths, and 224 are suspected drug toxicity deaths.

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Of the 171 overdose deaths, 62 occurred outside of Regina and Saskatoon, in places like Lloydminster, Prince Albert, Moose Jaw, Rosthern, Gordon’s First Nation and dozens of other small Saskatchewan communities.

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Colleen Larocque knows all too well that toxic drugs are making their way beyond big city borders. She lost her son Mitchell in Langenburg on Aug. 22, 2020.

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Mitchell worked at one of southern Saskatchewan’s potash mines. Larocque said he was a young family man and left behind two children. 

“There were four of them partying together that night and he’s the only one that didn’t wake up,” she said. “There was fentanyl, carfentanyl, methamphetamine and some cocaine … that’s what showed up in his toxicology report.”

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Laroque, who is a member of Moms Stop The Harm, says more supports are needed in rural Saskatchewan.

She said drug testing strips, which can detect the presence of opioids, could have prevented her son’s death and need to be more widely available across the province.

“In rural communities (like) in my local rural community, they’re not available,” she said.

The province has made testing strips available in recent years but right now, they are only available in 19 communities.

Moms Stop The Harm is also advocating for more access to safe consumption sites around Saskatchewan and for an alert system that sends a detailed text to subscribed users when laced or mislabeled drugs are discovered.

Global News requested a comment from the Saskatchewan government but did not receive a response by the time of publication.

– with files from Global Saskatoon’s Brody Langager

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