More Than 200 Deaths From Fentanyl Overdoses Forces BC To Become The First Province To Declare Public Health Emergency

By Raghbir Singh Bains

British Columbia has become the first province in Canada to declare a public health emergency after a dramatic increase in the number of overdose deaths from fentanyl. According to official reports there occurred more than 200 overdose deaths in British Columbia involving use of the fentanyl demon in the first three months of 2016. If the figures continue to rise at this rate, the same can rise up to 800 deaths by the end of the year 2016.

Health Minister Terry Lake said in a statement that the declaration will allow health officers to collect real-time information to help them quickly respond with prevention programs by targeting certain areas and groups of people instead of waiting for data from the coroner’s office. “We have to do everything to stop this toll,” he said. “This is a public health crisis and it’s taking its toll on families and communities across our province.”

Drug abuse is a real crisis in the world. It is considered as a disease but occasional use of alcohol or drugs is also considered as ethno-cultural and socio religious problem by many religions of the world. There has been increasing appetite for bhang, opium, heroin, smack, cocaine, crack and methamphetamine in the past also.

It is said that ‘fentanyl’, the killer drug is now taking over the Canadian streets.  It is in the news with a new spate of tragic deaths.

Fentanyl is more than 100 times toxic and dangerous than morphine and heroine. The equivalent of two grains of salt can kill a healthy adult. Fentanyl’s deadly toll is rising especially in B.C.

According to daily news appearing in the media, Canada is now in the midst of fentanyl crises. The highly potent fentanyl based opioid products – illegally produced and trafficked into Canada by overseas drug laboratories and sold for astronomical profits have caused hundreds of deaths. Only the tiniest amount of fentanyl is required to get someone very high, making it easy to package, distribute and smuggle. This makes the drug heavily profitable. It is gossiped that this drug can easily be received through postal mail. Similar reports showed that recently a vehicle transporting a substantial quantity of illicit drugs including heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, fentanyl and fake OxyContin was detected by the police in British Columbia. It was an eye opener.

The fentanyl crises is principally a homemade problem According to reports, Canada has been medically dispensing more therapeutic opioids than many other countries of the world. Our medical system had been prescribing such potent drugs to many people, too easily and too generously.  As a result more and more people began misusing the prescribed opioids ending up in emergency rooms or dying in hospitals. According to recent reports published in the press, there were 19.1 million opioid prescriptions in Canada during 2015 as compared to 18.7 million in 2014. However, it is not fentanyl only but there are other drugs and youth activities which are also killing people daily.

We must admit that dealing with drug menace is not an easy job. There is still difficulty to control supply and demand of drugs in the world. No country is immune. Cracking down on supply has seldom worked because no border is tight enough to cross its borders. Drug traders don’t need big trucks or ships these days for smuggling drugs such as fentanyl. But this does not absolve the respective governments of their duty to protect the country borders and more.

The growing epidemic is a big challenge and we the Canadians must fight collectively against this evil.  Alongwith other efforts, the professional strengthening of addiction and drug abuse treatment services and rehabilitation are dire need of the time.

We the parents, friends and society as a whole should not be spectators and silent onlookers to the reasons. We must not be ignorant that our misled youth are carrying prohibited arms and driving top notch cars. They go to expensive hotels, motels and night clubs-bars. What they do there should be serious concern of the parents and society as a whole. Enough is enough. We must rise up against the national emergency. We should not forget the facts that drugs had been responsible for fall of big empires and great men in the history.  

If the kids are involved in uttering threats, carrying prohibited weapons, doing drug trading, shootings, committing murders and abusing drugs then parents must know and try to get help for them from available sources.   The united involvement of youth, parents, family members, educational institutions, teachers, preachers, volunteer activists, therapists, prevention programs, public health workers, police personals, justice system, government agencies, media and the community at large is essentially required. Youth involved in drugs should be our main concern. It is our duty to make them part of the healthy society.

Let all of us take joint responsibility to plug supply and demand of illicit drugs and educate those who are misled. They are part of the global progeny. Let’s save our next generations from vices of shootings, lootings, drug epidemic and untimely deaths for a better future of the global society.

Raghbir Singh Bains is an eminent drug therapist, mentor, volunteer and community activist. He moves around many countries of the world to educate and rehabilitate the misled youth.

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