A drug is any substance other than food that you put into your body that changes the way your mind or body functions.

 

TOBACCO is a stimulant and is known to cause heart disease, lung disease and even cancer. Cigarettes contain more than 4000 chemicals including some poisons. Many provincial laws prohibit smoking on school property as well as in other public areas. There is no such thing as a safe poisons.

MARIHUANA is the most widely used illegal drug. Things are often added to marihuana that the buyer may not be aware of. Marihuana is considered a gateway drug. Some effects of marihuana use include loss of memory lack of motivation and lack of concentration.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opiate drug traditionally used to treat acute pain, often times with persons who are tolerant to traditional opiate drugs.  Fentanyl is approximately 100 times as powerful as morphine and in pharmaceutical form is most often seen as a transdermal patch (absorbed through the skin).  Dosage levels for transdermal patches are measured in micro grams (0.000001 grams) per hour.  A fatal dose of fentanyl is roughly 2mg (0.002 grams) or the size of a few grains of table salt.

 Transdermal patches can become the target for drug users in the city.  The patches can be stolen from pharmacies or prescribed users.  In addition, a person who is prescribed a Fentanyl patch can sometimes illegally sell some of their patches to drug users.  Occasionally, the patches have already been used but still retain some of the Fentanyl.

There are also different analogues of fentanyl which are more powerful than fentanyl itself.  Carfentanyl is roughly 100 times as strong as fentanyl and 10,000 times as strong as morphine.  Carfentanyl has already been seized this year in western Canada.

There are numerous methods to illicitly use a fentanyl patch and these can include cutting the patch up and placing a portion on the body or under the tongue, scraping the fentanyl from the patch and injecting or smoking it.

More recently in Hamilton, we have seen the emergence of illicitly or clandestinely produced fentanyl, (ie. Fentanyl that is not produced by a pharmaceutical company) and the dangers of this type of drug are great.  Illicit fentanyl can come from a variety of different sources.  It can be illegally imported from source countries such as China, it can be smuggled in from places such as Mexico or it can be illegally produced in clandestine drug labs here in Canada.  Because this fentanyl is produced clandestinely, the quality, strength and mixture are often not consistent from batch to batch.  Sometimes this can create “hot spots” where there are portions of a batch that contain highly concentrated portions of fentanyl.

The illicit form of fentanyl is most often seen in the powder form after which it can be pressed into a tablet, often attempting to mimic the appearance of other opiate pills such as oxycodone.  It has also been seen in liquid form. Illicit fentanyl can also be mixed with other drugs such as heroin and cocaine. The street name for heroin mixed with fentanyl is often referred to as “popcorn”.  When some of the fentanyl containing “hot spots” is either pressed into tablet form or mixed with other drugs, the chance of overdose rises greatly.

In certain circumstances, the end user is not familiar with exactly what drug they are buying.  Occasionally they may think they are buying heroin, not knowing that it has been either mixed with fentanyl, or that it may contain only fentanyl.  These situations can lead to unexpected fentanyl overdoses and death.

Because fentanyl is such a powerful drug, only a small portion of it needs to enter a person’s body before the effects are felt.  Because of its potency and its ability to be absorbed through the skin, the dangers of people accidentally coming into contact with fentanyl is great.  This can either happen from discarded fentanyl patches, illicit powder or other forms.  Accidental inhalation of airborne powder can also occur if the substance is not handled properly.

Some signs of fentanyl overdose include:

severe drowsiness
disorientation
cold and clammy skin
nausea
respiratory depression (the slowing of breathing)
death 

The most common way of treating an opiate overdose is my administering an opioid antagonist called naloxone.  Naloxone can be used to counteract the effects of fentanyl and other opioids.  In addition, naloxone was recently de-listed by Heath Canada which means it no longer needs a physician’s prescription to obtain.  Naloxone is available for purchase over-the-counter at pharmacies.  Sometimes the effects of the fentanyl last longer than the naloxone, therefore it is important to note that additional doses of naloxone could be required for a person who has overdosed.  In any situation involving a suspected fentanyl or other opiate overdose, 9-1-1 should be called.

The danger for accidental exposure to fentanyl is high and for this reason people should avoid handling unknown powders, pills or fentanyl patches.

The public is also urged to anonymously contact Crime Stoppers with any information regarding the trafficking or importation of fentanyl and other drugs.

 

Detective Constable Adam Brown #1167
Hamilton Police Service
Vice and Drug Unit
Office: 905-546-3884
Cell: 905-961-6304
E-mail: abrown@hamiltonpolice.on.ca

INHALANTS are in many common household products including: glue, gasoline, spray paint and air fresheners. Some dangerous side effects of sniffing or huffing include: memory loss, slurred speech blurry vision, vomiting and seizures. These may also lead to permanent brain damage. One sniff can kill you!

STIMULANTS are drugs that speed up the central nervous system and temporarily make people feel more awake and alert. coffee and cigarettes are considered mild stimulants. cocaine, amphetamines and methamphetamines are much stronger and are highly addictive.

CLUB DRUGS may cause hallucinations, blackouts, paranoia, brain damage and death.  Ketamine, ecstasy and GHB are some examples of club drugs.

PERFORMANCE ENHANCING DRUGS are used to boost athletic performance or body strength. One of the most common performance enhancing drugs is steroids.

 

Prescription Medication Misuse & Abuse

  • Prescription medication can be safe and effective when used under the direction of a doctor or health care provider. For this reason, many young people believe they are not as dangerous as illegal drugs. In reality, prescribed drugs can also be illegal and the misuse and abuse of these medications can lead to addiction, overdose and even death.

​Common Abused Prescription Medications

  • Ritalin and Concerta – These drugs are stimulants often prescribed to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). When taken as prescribed, they help increase a person’s attention span and decreases restlessness.
  • Oxycodone and Fentanyl – These drugs are often prescribed to relieve pain. They are considered opioids and are highly addictive. Oxycodone is normally in a pill or tablet form and fentanyl is commonly prescribed in a patch form

Warning Signs of Drug Use

Drug users typically exhibit problems in several areas of their lives. These warning signs may be indicators of physical or emotional problems. Being aware of them can help detect a drug problem before it gets out of control. If someone you know is showing any of these signs, be a friend. Listen to them, share what you know about drugs and encourage them to seek help from a counselor, teacher, relative or clergy member.

  • personality changes
  • sudden mood changes, irritability
  • irresponsible behaviour
  • low self-esteem
  • poor judgement, depression
  • a general lack of interest in all activities or topics
  • spending time thinking about how to get drugs

  • fatigue
  • change in eating or sleeping patterns
  • repeated health complaints
  • red and glazed eyes
  • difficultly concentrating
  • lack of interest in personal grooming and physical appearance
  • feeling sick or shaky when not using the drug

  • hanging out with new friends, some of whom may be using drugs
  • problems with the law
  • stealing to be able to afford drugs
  • changes to less conventional styles in dress and music
  • Loss of interest in hobbies, sports or other activities that used to be important

  • decreased interest
  • negative attitude
  • drop in grades
  • irregular attendance
  • discipline problems

  • deteriorating relationships
  • starting arguments
  • breaking rules

 

Talking to your kids about drugs….

  • Learn as many of the facts about drugs that you can. This will help you feel prepared.
  • Consult the drug information facts in the Parent Guide.  Kids on drugs guide for parents
  • Admit when you don’t know something
  • Research the question with your child—it’s something you can do together

 

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