The alarm has been raised recently about a drug called fentanyl, which is causing disability and death due to overdose.
Cst. Jacques Lefebvre of the Summerland RCMP said it has not yet shown up in Summerland, but it is coming.
Fentanyl is a highly potent and addictive synthetic opioid. It is prescribed by doctors to relieve severe or chronic pain, primarily for cancer patients.
It is often administered in the form of a patch that is applied to the skin, thus allowing the drug to be slowly absorbed over time.
On the street, users extract the drug from the patch, heat it, which makes it more potent and then inject it directly into their veins.
It is cheaper and more potent than heroin.
Opioids are among the world’s oldest known drugs, with the therapeutic use of the opium poppy predating recorded history.
The opioids of today are not limited to the natural compounds or opiates of the poppy but refer to both opiates and synthetic substances.
They are produced in laboratories, either legally or illegally.
Opioid drugs work by binding to the body’s opiate receptors found in the area of the brain that controls pain and emotions.
This drives up the dopamine levels in the brain’s reward areas, producing a state of euphoria and relaxation.
The type of Fentanyl associated with the recent overdoses is suspected to have been produced in hidden laboratories.
The illegally produced product may be secretly mixed with heroin or sold in pills disguised as oxycodone, another painkiller used for mild to moderate pain.
Lefebvre said that the RCMP has received information on just how dangerous this drug is.
He explained that drugs like this usually show up in the larger centres first and then trickle out to the smaller communities.
He is hopeful that the young people of Summerland will stay away from fentanyl, because of the education they have received through the Drug Awareness (DARE) Program he has been teaching in the schools for so many years.
“Many of these kids are in Grade 12 now and all I can hope is that they remember what I have taught them,” he said.