hi-padis-fentanyl-campaign2015-poster-85x11(1)A free antidote for the deadly fentanyl drug is now available at scores of locations throughout the Calgary area as family doctors, pharmacists and others continue to expand access to these potentially life-saving kits.

A total of 272 overdose deaths related to fentanyl were recorded in Alberta last year, more than double the number recorded in 2014. Alberta Health purchased 7,000 naloxone take-home kits for fentanyl users and their loved ones, which are now available at pharmacies, walk-in clinics and other locations, including Calgary Foothills PCN’s Access 365 Clinic.

Read on for more information about fentanyl and how to access naloxone take-home kits.

What is fentanyl?

Fentanyl is an extremely strong drug made from opioids (chemicals used to treat sudden and ongoing pain). Drug dealers often sell it as fake oxycodone. However, the drug is much stronger and when taken by mouth or via injection, it has a stronger effect than most other opioids, including codeine, morphine and oxycodone. On the street, fentanyl is generally called green beans, green apples or fake oxy.

Who takes fentanyl and why?

On the street, it’s sold as an oxycodone substitute. Some people take it to treat chronic pain that other medicine has not been effective in treating. Others use it to get high or to help them sleep. Unlike many other drugs, fentanyl is being used by suburban families and even children. It is also being used by marginalized populations, but not exclusively.

Why is it dangerous?

It can poison you if you take too much. When you buy it on the street, it is often mixed with other harmful drugs and the concentration is not reliable. This puts users at a higher risk of being poisoned. It is also addictive. The most dangerous side effect of fentanyl is that it can cause you to stop breathing, which can lead to death.

What is naloxone?

Naloxone is a safe, effective drug that can be used to temporarily reverse an opioid overdose if it’s given in time, allowing people to seek emergency medical help. It can be administered by friends, family or loved ones in the form of emergency overdose kits. Alberta has purchased these take-home kits and is making them available to users and their loved ones at numerous locations throughout the province.

How can I request a naloxone take-home kit?

Call 587-774-9736 (Monday to Friday, 8:30 am – 4:30 pm) to request a confidential appointment at Calgary Foothills PCN’s Access 365 Clinic. You can also view an interactive map of more than 100 pharmacies and walk-in clinics in the Calgary area that are prescribing and dispensing naloxone kits.

Where can I find more information about fentanyl and naloxone?

The drugsfool.ca website features all latest information and updates about fentanyl and naloxone. Other resources you may find useful are this fentanyl FAQ, Anyone concerned about their own or someone else’s use of drugs can also call Health Link 811 or the Addiction and Mental Health Helpine at 1-866-332-2322 (both lines are toll free and available 24/7). If you witness someone suffering an overdose, call 911.