Growing Use of Illicit Fentanyl, Cause for Concern – Drug Abuse Alert

| June 14, 2015


There is a growing use of the illicit drug fentanyl in Fox Creek and area, causing concern.

“Based on a recent increase in illicit Fentanyl use in Fox Creek, I feel it is my responsibility to warn the public on how very dangerous or lethal the nonprescription use of the drug Fentanyl can be,” said Fox Creek’s RCMP Sergeant Warren Wright.

Fentanyl goes by a few street names, more commonly called “apples” or “greenies”.

They come in jade green colored round pill form. (See photo below).  Fentanyl pills are dyed green all the way through, as opposed to Oxycodone which is color coated on the surface and has white centers.

red apple

Fentanyl goes by a few street names, more commonly called “apples” or “greenies”. They come in jade green colored round pill form. Fentanyl pills are dyed green all the way through, as opposed to Oxycodone which is color coated on the surface and has white centers.

Fentanyl pills are typically being ground up into a pure powder form and snorted through the nose, making it incredibly lethal in trace quantities.

Fentanyl is approximately 80 to 100 times more potent than morphine and roughly 15 to 20 times more potent than heroin.

Fentanyl is one of a small number of drugs that may be especially harmful, and in some cases fatal, with just one dose, if used by someone other than the person for whom the drug was prescribed. All fentanyl medicine should be kept in a secure location such as a locked cabinet that is out of children’s sight and reach.

When they cannot be disposed of through a drug take-back program, flushing is recommended for fentanyl medicines because it is the fastest and surest way to remove these potent medicines from the home so they cannot harm children, pets, and others not intended to use them.

Overdoses from narcotic painkillers like fentanyl can be extremely serious with long-lasting, if not fatal, consequences. As such, knowing how to recognize the signs of fentanyl use as well as the symptoms of an overdose can help those around the user realize the danger early and seek treatment before serious consequences of an overdose can occur. (Source:

Signs of Fentanyl Use

FentanylThe National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that most overdose instances resulting from fentanyl use occur because of the mixture of fentanyl with heroinin a powdered form. Unmixed fentanyl is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine, but with the addition of heroin, its effects are even greater.

The mixture can increase overdose chances as well as the severity of fentanyl overdose symptoms. This makes it even more important that those who associate with fentanyl users be able to recognize the signs of use as a way to attempt to get the user help before an overdose results in serious long-term damage. Some signs of fentanyl use include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Lightheadedness
  • False sense of well-being
  • Fainting upon quick movements
  • Lack of alertness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

Although some signs of addiction are difficult to recognize immediately, multiple signs of fentanyl use can point to illicit use of the drug. With continued use, overdose can occur, leading to a variety of fentanyl overdose symptoms. Further information on how to recognize signs of fentanyl use can be found by calling us at 1-888-652-3778.


Overdose Symptoms

When used as prescribed, fentanyl can be a dangerous pain reliever. Doctors who prescribe the medication often suggest that patients be checked regularly while using the medication for proper breathing and heartbeat. In recreational doses, fentanyl use can lead easily to an overdose.

Knowing the signs of an overdose on fentanyl can help anyone witnessing these overdose symptoms to make quick decisions that will result in getting the overdose victim help.

Fentanyl is a slow-release administered by patch or lozenge. Fentanyl is a slow-release prescription drug administered by patch or lozenge. The faster the drug is released into a user’s system, the more pleasurable the resultant effects. This causes recreational users to turn to the powdered and usually illegally manufactured version of the drug for a fast-acting version.

With an increase in the absorption rate comes an increase in the overdose rate. According to the FDA, excessive heat may cause prescription patches to release increased levels of fentanyl as well, possibly resulting in overdose.

The symptoms of a fentanyl overdose are physical in nature and thus easy to note by those looking for them. These symptoms can include:

  • Clammy skin
  • Seizures
  • Severe drowsiness or inability to be awakened
  • Low blood pressure
  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Slowed heartbeat
  • Respiratory reduction

Once the fentanyl overdose symptoms begin, it’s important to get the user help as soon as possible in an emergency room.

Overdose Treatment

Fentanyl overdose treatment should occur immediately upon recognizing that an overdose is in progress. If the overdose is caused by a patch or lozenge then the first part of the treatment is to remove the remaining fentanyl to avoid reinforcing the amount already absorbed in the user’s system. From there, the fentanyl is treated as a poison.

overdoseIf the drug dose was a recent one and there is a chance that the drug can be found within the user’s stomach, medical personnel may give the user activated charcoal or pump the user’s stomach to remove as much of the drug from his or her system as possible before absorption into the blood stream.

While this will not stop the fentanyl overdose symptoms already being experienced, it will help prevent further damage from the drug.

A narcotic antidote exists for use with fentanyl overdoses. Narcan, the brand name for the drug naloxone, is commonly used to counter opiate overdoses from drugs like fentanyl. Given intravenously, Narcan can have an effect on the patient within a minute, reducing the depression of the central nervous system that results from a Fentanyl overdose. The effect of the Narcan is shorter than the usual length of an overdose so Narcan is often given repeatedly to help against fentanyl overdose symptoms.

Fentanyl overdose treatment also includes supportive treatment of the individual symptoms of the overdose. For instance, slowed respiration is usually treated with an application of mechanical ventilation to assist with breathing.


  • Fentanyl is often mixed with heroin or cocaine to increase the effect of the drugs.
  • Most fentanyl involved in overdoses is manufactured by illegal laboratories and combined with heroin or sold as heroin.
  • Naloxone, used to treat fentanyl overdoses, is sometimes given out freely in kits provided to heroin users for use in reducing fatal heroin overdoses.
  • (Source:


RCMP Press Release

Edmonton, Alberta – Alberta RCMP, Alberta Health Services and the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner are concerned about the illicit use of fentanyl in Alberta.

In the Province of Alberta, fentanyl has contributed to or caused more than 100 deaths in 2014 (as indicated by preliminary numbers), which is a significant increase from six deaths in 2011.

Illicit fentanyl is a potent synthetic opioid analgesic produced in clandestine laboratories. It can appear in the form of pills or powder, and is often referred to as “greenies” when sold on the street. It has been reported that this very toxic substance is often sold as OxyContin to unsuspecting users.

These pills are similar in coloring and identifying marks and can be easily mistaken for OxyContin.

The RCMP and other police agencies and our joint forces, Alberta Law Enforcement Response Teams (ALERT), have been seizing record amounts of illicitly produced fentanyl in Alberta communities and continue to do so.

Illicit fentanyl was seized throughout several RCMP jurisdictions in the last year.

The following are example of some of these seizures:

  • 14,000 tablets – April 2014 to now – various Alberta communities – ALERT
  • 10,000 tablets – Fall 2014 – Grande Prairie RCMP
  • 60,000 tablets – November 2014 – West of Calgary RCMP Traffic
  • 3,927 tablets – February 2015 – Sherwood Park RCMP
  • 36 tablets – March 2015 – Innisfail RCMP
  • 5,079 tablets – March 2015 – Grande Prairie RCMP

“None of my police officers want to notify someone of the death of their loved one, especially when it could have been prevented,” says Alberta RCMP Commanding Officer, Deputy Commissioner Marianne Ryan.

“Organized crime is a driving force behind synthetic drug production and trafficking.  Illicit drugs, such as fentanyl, fuels organized crime which in turn breeds other criminal activity throughout the communities we live in.”

OxyContin that has been prescribed by a physician can be taken safely in recommended dosages and under medical care; however, drugs obtained on the street – of any kind, including fentanyl – are never safe.

“Fentanyl is not a new drug of abuse.  What we are seeing is the tragic reality of street drugs,” says Dr. Mark Yarema, Medical Director of Alberta’s Poison and Drug Information Service (PADIS) and Emergency Medicine Physician.  “Simply, there is no such thing as a safe street drug; there is no safe dose; and, no one is immune to the risk.”

In a number of recent fentanyl cases, there have been many other drugs present, in a person’s blood, including a veterinary medicine used on animals during castration procedures.

“No matter what you think you’re buying, when it comes to street drugs, you really don’t ever know what you’re getting,” says Yarema.

If anyone who has used or come into contact with fentanyl or any other street drug, becomes unconscious, stops breathing, experiences chest pain or has a seizure, Call 911 immediately.

Albertans can also call PADIS toll-free, 24/7, at 1-800-332-1414, for confidential consultation with staff trained in the assessment and management of exposures to drugs, including fentanyl.

If you are concerned about your own drug or alcohol use, the drug and/or alcohol use of a friend or loved one, or would simply like more information on drug and alcohol use, contact the Addiction & Mental Health 24 Hour Helpline at 1-866-332-2322.


drug •

Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse •Drug Alert

Fentanyl Related Overdoses

This alert is to advise that, as of February, 2015, there continues to be reports of fatal and non-fatal overdoses that are suspected or confirmed to involve non-pharmaceutical (illicit) fentanyl.

Since June 2013, there have been numerous reports from across Canada of fentanyl appearing in pill and powder form and being sold as oxycodone tablets, heroin or other substances. Fentanyl might also be mixed into other recreational drugs, including stimulants such as cocaine and MDMA.

Anecdotal reports suggest most overdoses appear to be in individuals who thought they were using heroin, oxycodone, cocaine or another substance, but have mistakenly taken fentanyl.

Many deaths have occurred in adults under the age of 40. In addition to injection, many report oral ingestion, snorting or smoking.

Fentanyl is considerably more toxic than other opioids and is extremely lethal: even small quantities can result in overdose. It is particularly deadly to opioid naïve users — people can die on their first use.



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Brandi loves meeting people and sharing their stories. A country girl at heart, she appreciates the simple things in a complex world.

Comments (3)

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  1. Ken says:

    I understand from the talk around Fox Creek that there have been several deaths attributable to Fentanyl in the past few weeks, yet there is nothing in the press.

    Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  2. joe miotti says:

    thanks for the insight never really knew what it was.

    Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  3. Cindy Nielson says:

    Thank you for sharing this information it is good to know what to watch for.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 4 Thumb down 4

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