There may be a bad batch of drugs in Chilliwack creating violent and psychotic reactions, according reports from a front-line worker.
It’s thought to be a new drug, similar to ‘bath salts,’ and many times more powerful than Fentanyl.
The upshot has been at least two deaths, and three overdoses, said Penny Robinson, with the Harm Reduction team from the Chilliwack Addiction Prevention program.
Robinson runs the needle exchange program from the Empress parking lot, providing clean needles to about 15 to 25 people a day.
Several people from the streets of Chilliwack have been talking about the powerful new street drug.
“My information has been coming second hand, but there have been multiple reports.”
Local police say they have not recorded incidents or a spike in drug related overdoses, and they are not aware of super-potent street drugs like W-18 having arrived in Chilliwack.
“However RCMP is concerned about any substance or product that puts the public at risk in Chilliwack, and will remain vigilant,” said RCMP Cpl. Mike Rail.
Robinson has been warning people, in person and online, as a public safety message, not to approach anyone when in a violent state. Addicts don’t seem to know what they’re dealing with.
“It’s important for people to know their source.”
Without autopsy results it’s impossible to confirm the extent that this new drug is to blame in recent incidents.
“We think it hit the street here on Tuesday, and there are reports of extreme psychosis. They aren’t scared of anything and think they’re invincible.”
By Wednesday several overdoses were being reported to her, Robinson said.
It could be the same or a similar drug to the one that surfaced in Calgary last month. It’s a fake Oxycontin type drug, with no clinical uses, known as W-18, a synthetic opioid.
It may have made its way to Chilliwack drug users.
Tests by Health Canada in the Alberta cases showed it’s up to 100 times more potent than Fentanyl.
A major drug trafficking network was dismantled by RCMP and law enforcement agencies in the last year, so that’s created a battle for supremacy on the street, among drug dealers, Robinson said.
“So the want is still there. It’s so sad.”
This powerful new drug could be deadly to inexperienced users, and it’s not known yet if the standard emergency antidote, Narcan, is effective against it. Some have suggested it may take more doses.
Narcan training is being conducted by Fraser Health in some communities to prevent overdose deaths. The brand name drug Narcan or Naloxone is an anti-overdose treatment, which blocks the effects of opioid, such as when the heart slows down or stops completely, during an overdose episode.
Fraser Health officials said they have no new information to report on the subject of this street drug.