Fentanyl Abuse Becoming A Problem

A fentanyl patch. (Photo courtesy of commons.wikimedia.org.)

Deaths linked to fentanyl abuse in Chatham-Kent have already tripled this year compared to 2013.

Three people have died in the last six months from ingesting the painkiller for recreational purposes, the youngest being 21 years old. Police say one person died last year as a result of fentanyl. Over the last four years, the drug has claimed seven lives and six people have been hospitalized for overdoses, statistics police are monitoring closely.

“Our crime analyst is currently, and has been for the past couple of years, tracking both overdoses and deaths associated with this drug in hopes of seeing if there are any correlations or patterns that we can identify,” says Chatham-Kent Deputy Police Chief Gary Conn, who notes the police force had a major breakthrough last year. “Our intelligence drug section had developed and implemented a covert undercover drug project to target the trafficking of fentanyl and methamphetamine in Chatham-Kent. The investigation lasted five months and resulted in 28 arrests and 100 criminal charges. A total of 530mg of fentanyl was recovered.”

Conn believes the spike in the use of the drug is a result of the Canadian government trying to phase out OxyContin, a similar addictive painkiller. Fentanyl is usually prescribed in the form of a patch, which drug users often smoke or chew.

The police service is working on developing a program that would allow those prescribed the drug to return their unused patches to the pharmacy. Conn tells BlackburnNews.com thieves often target homes of the ill and elderly in hopes of finding fentanyl to sell.