According to new statistics, there has been an over 40 percent increase in street drugs that have tested positive for fentanyl in Canada between this year and last. Obtained by Global News from Health Canada, this increase confirms that casual drug use is becoming increasingly dangerous.
"It's probably never been a more dangerous time in Canadian history to be using illicit substances," Michael Parkinson of the Waterloo Regional Crime Prevention Council, told Global, echoing a VICE story from last month. The release of these statistics follows the news that cocaine is being detected more than any other recreational drug in instances of fentanyl overdoses in BC, one of the provinces suffering most from the opioid crisis. The number of drug overdose deaths so far this year in BC just surpassed last year's toll of 508: 555 people died in the first nine months of 2016 in the province. In Ontario, where drug overdose death numbers continue to be out of date compared to Alberta and BC, fentanyl has been found in cocaine, MDMA, and meth, along with counterfeit Xanax, Percocet, and OxyContin. Last month in Barrie, Ontario, five people overdosed at a party after using fentanyl-laced coke. And on October 20, a warning was issued for bootleg fentanyl in Brantford, Ontario. READ MORE: It's Never Been Less Safe to Try Out Drugs In order to protect yourself from overdose, it is important to follow harm reduction guidelines to make drug use as safe as possible. Don't use alone, try a small sample at first to see how you feel, wait to see effects before another person tries the substance. Know your source and test your drugs with a kit whenever possible. Always have naloxone (the opioid overdose antidote) on hand, which is available over the counter in Alberta, BC, and Ontario and with a prescription in other Canadian provinces. Follow Allison Tierney on Twitter.