Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Dangerous drug hitting Steinbach

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A little-known drug is a growing problem in Steinbach.

Steinbach RCMP say the recreational use of fentanyl, a powerful prescription painkiller, has increased in the area over the last two years, with some cases resulting in serious overdoses.

Last week, Steinbach RCMP arrested Kyle Barker, along with his father, Dean, and his spouse, Tanya Bell, in connection with dealing fentanyl in the area. Barker, 19, pleaded guilty to several drug-trafficking and possession charges stemming from separate arrests earlier this year and in 2012. Fentanyl is an opiate 100 times more potent than heroin and 750 times more potent than codeine and is extremely addictive. Fentanyl is prescribed to patients in a patch form and is commonly used as an anesthetic or as a relief for serious chronic pain, though it has recently become more prevalent as a recreational drug.

"Its purpose is as a painkiller, and many Manitobans need access to it for legitimate reasons," said Yvonne Block, chief executive officer with Addictions Foundation Manitoba (AFM). "It's a slow-release patch that people wear. When people take that patch and tamper with it, when they manipulate it and alter it in a way where it's no longer a slow release, it becomes a really dangerous drug.

"If people find a way of smoking it or injecting fentanyl it becomes a very addictive drug. It's highly potent, highly intensified when it's altered into a different form and the risk of overdose is high with early users."

Those looking to get a high from a fentanyl patch will manipulate it so it can be smoked or injected into the bloodstream.

Others looking for an immediate affect from the drug will chew on the patch to speed up the release and the impact on the dopamine reward areas in the brain.


-- Adam Wazny

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 6, 2013 A5

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