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New substance of concern on Grande Prairie streets: Northreach Society

Opioid-related deaths in Grande Prairie seem to be on the rise according to recent observations from Northreach Society.

Northreach Harm Reduction Team Lead, Lindsay Loset says a new polysubstance, consisting of various opiates and potentially benzodiazepines, has led to a series of respiratory emergencies for substance users in Grande Prairie. She says through Northreach’s reach in the community, non-regulated opioids have been observed to be causing significant harm to those affected by drug addiction.

“From working with clients in certain areas of town, we’re finding that there has been an increase in deaths over the last couple weeks,” she says. “When talking to people who are using substances in the community, they recognize that there is a drug that is currently available that is yellow in colour, we suspect that it has opioids in it, a non-regulated version of an opiate, maybe Fentanyl or Carfentanyl, there’s also the possibility that there are benzodiazepines in the drug.”

Loset says Northreach is currently working on community advocacy to inform substance users in Grande Prairie regarding the potential harms associated with using opiates, especially as the drug supply remains unregulated, allowing new forms such as this to break into the scene.

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“We encourage people not to use alone, making sure you have someone there with you, or using at our supervised consumption site, always having a Naloxone kit on hand and knowing how to use it,”

Naloxone kits and training programs on proper use are available at Northreach, or at any local pharmacy, and Loset says it is always a good idea to have one on hand in case of emergencies.

Additionally, Loset says Northreach has informed the AHS Drug Alert program regarding their recent findings; however, the focus remains on informing the community as the provincial Drug Alert process takes time.

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