Williams Lake had three drug overdose deaths in 2016 and one in January 2017, said Jordan Davis, harm reduction co-ordinator with the Boys and Girls Club of Williams Lake and District.
“We have had a couple of overdoses where it has taken up to nine vials of naloxone to bring somebody back,” Davis told parents and students during a drug information session at Lake City Secondary Tuesday evening at the Williams Lake campus that attracted around 20 people. “These are very very strong drugs.”
Davis’s warning follows on the heels of Interior Health confirming earlier in March a positive carfentanil drug test in the Kootenay region reported by Health Canada and a positive carfentanil urine test in the Thompson Cariboo Shuswap region reported by LifeLabs.
“The drugs tested by Health Canada were illegal imitation oxycodone tablets with the markings CDN 80,” Interior Health noted in a press release. “The drug involved in the positive urine test is unknown.”
Joining Davis to present the information session were RCMP officers Const. Matt Vandenberk and Const. Sam Nakatsu.
Vandenberk outlined how to respond if someone has overdosed by using something called the Save Me Steps which stand for Stimulate, Airway, Ventilate, Evaluate, Muscular injection of naloxone and Evaluate.
“An opioid overdose tells the lungs to stop breathing,” he said.
Nakatsu recently completed training to be a drug recognition expert for the RCMP and is one of two in Williams Lake.
“We are specially skilled to examine a person who is suspected of drug impairment and able to determine the categories of drugs causing the impairment,” Nakatsu said.
Nakatsu said it’s not only drug users that are going to overdose from fentanyl or carfentanil because one or two grains the size of salt grains can harm humans by touching the skin.
He suggested even mechanic shops should have a naloxone kit on hand, just in case they are working inside vehicles where drugs have been used.
During the session the audience watched two short videos.
One video talked about addictions and how they stem from human beings needing to bond and connect. Addiction is the opposite of connection, the narrator said.
“We were meant to bond with the people we live around, but when we are traumatized, isolated or beaten down by life we will bond with something that gives us relief,” the video noted. “It might be checking a smart phone, it might be pornography, video games, gambling or it might be cocaine, but we will bond with something. Addiction is just one symptom of the crisis of disconnection that’s happening all around us.”
The second video featured a mother whose son died of a drug overdose.
After a back injury on the job, her son was prescribed with oxycodone and it didn’t take him very long to become addicted, she said.
“Parents need to know that in every single high school in this country there is potential for obtaining drugs,” the mother warned. “If a parent is judgmental, if a parent is angry, the child will close down so the conversation has to be calm and measured with facts and not pointing fingers or stigmatizing.”
Davis said if parents are interested in taking a naloxone kit home and learning how to administer it, her team could come back to Lake City Secondary School to give a training session.
Nakatsu encouraged parents to download the RCMP drug awareness app on their phones or iPads as a way to receive information about drugs and related trends in Canada.