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I Used to Abuse Fentanyl

After a shit ton of the super-strong painkiller fentanyl was seized in Montreal, our very own Gabe Gilker retells the story from her own personal perspective, having used the drug herself.

Your brain on fentanyl. via.

It’s no surprise that Montreal is one of the biggest drug ports in Canada. It’s a party city filled with kids who like to have fun. Over the past six years Montreal has been responsible for 60% of the $5.5 billion in drug seizures that have been caught at our nation's border, according to Canadian Border Service Agency, and god knows how many billions of dollars sold internally. There are always drug busts going on in our mess of a city, but that’s what gives it a certain sketchbag charm. It’s one of the only cities in Canada where the youth are massively involved in the scene and are quite resilient when it comes to taking their drugs. Which just means they’re going to go out looking for something harder than the run of the mill ecstasy pill eventually. So it’s not surprising that the police found three kilos of desmethyl fentanyl in their most recent drug bust earlier this month.


Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is supposed to be used as a pain reliever. It is way more potent than morphine and generally is given to cancer patients in the form of a patch to help relieve pain. There are a few different ways that you can get in into your system by either smoking, shooting, snorting or orally ingesting it—depending on the form you have available. Most often than not, heroin users will mix it with lower grade heroin in order to compensate and make the drug more potent and get a next level high. What a lot of people don’t realize is how easy it is to overdose on due to the potency, which has caused a bunch of fatalities including Wilco’s guitar player Jay Bennett. He had an actual prescription for this shit. The Montreal police force was shocked, claiming that this was the first time they have ever found fentanyl being sold in the black market. In addition to the three kilos of fent, they found enough equipment to produce over three million pills and machines that are capable of pushing out one pill per second. Which is pretty impressive when you think about it. This is the biggest and most recent drug bust this year; it spanned across several districts in Montreal, including the Plateau, Little Burgundy, and Point St-Charles.

This may be the first time it’s shown up in such large quantities in a Montreal drug bust, but fentanyl is no stranger to Canada. Two years ago in Surrey, B.C. the R.C.M.P. found the first fentanyl lab in the country which was only discovered because a 30 year old man was dying of an overdose in there. Fentanyl in it’s purest form before it’s processed is pretty toxic apparently and when the police were clearing it out in Montreal four of them had to be hospitalized for getting too much of a dose of it through their specially designed drug proof suits.


Fentanyl patches. via. When I initially heard about this bust, it brought me back to a hot summer day three years ago—the first day I ever took fentanyl. I will never forget that first time. It was around noon, in a tent, in the middle of an electronic music festival. I sat nervously on some random person’s sleeping bag as my friend cut out a square off this patch and placed it on a piece of tin foil. I had never freebased anything before, but my pal explained that he was going to heat it up from underneath and that I would have to suck up the smoke from the straw when the patch started bubbling. I knew that nothing good would come out of this, but I took the straw from him anyway, and waited until I saw the smoke starting to rise from the tinfoil. I inhaled deeply as the patch bubbled and turned a gnarly shade of brown. I held in the smoke and exhaled. As it started hitting all my nerves disintegrated and I felt fucking awesome. He took his hit and then we stumbled out of the tent and into the sun. As we walked around I started stretching. I felt light as a feather and bright as the sun. My friend turned to me and asked me how I was doing. I smiled and he just said: “It makes you feel invincible doesn’t it?” I couldn’t agree more.

It wasn’t until I had some more hits that I realized that this drug wasn’t all sunshine and rainbow sparkles. As the drugs started to fade about 45 minutes later, so did I. The nausea that gripped me was insane. To keep it at bay I took another hit. That helped take off the edge a bit, but my insides still felt like they were smashing together like a hurricane. Next thing I knew fent was on the brain. Fent and everything else I could get my hands on. This was a dark period in my life. Looking back on it now, it’s hard to remember everything that happened, but one thing that I know is that if I didn’t have the support of my close friends I would be in a much worse situation. I remember sitting in my house alone freebasing the shit out of this one patch and mixing it with other drugs, when I came to a stark realization that I was ruining my life; but I couldn’t stop. Or, more accurately, I didn’t want to stop because I was afraid of the withdrawal. It took me losing most of my friends and alienating myself at school to realize I was being a piece of shit. So I quit. I quit everything at once. I spent what seemed like an eternity in my apartment throwing up and sweating out all the reckless nights of partying. I had no way of telling how long I was actually in there alone as I switched between reality and dreams, but just as easily as one flicks a switch I woke up and I felt clear headed. The withdrawal fever had passed, I was exhausted, but I no longer needed that crutch. I remember making a lot of phone calls that day, apologizing for my behaviour over the past few months and feeling like a real dirt bag. It’s all very surreal to me now that a few years have passed, but I’m still grateful I went through it—because now I know that fent is fucked up—and I will never touch that shit again. Previously:

The Metha-DOs and Metha-DON'Ts of Shaking Your Addiction

In the Future Your Drug Dealer Will Be a Printer

Austerity's Drug of Choice