As government data tracks a spike of fentanyl across Canada, people who use illicit drugs in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside say there is virtually no heroin left on the street after it has been pushed out by the cheaper and more potent fentanyl.
Longtime advocate Hugh Lampkin of the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users says he believes the market has been all but taken over by fentanyl.
This comes as British Columbia’s coroners’ service recently revealed a staggering spike in overdose deaths linked to the potent opioid, which is cheaper and far more concentrated than heroin.
That makes it easier to smuggle and gives it a higher profit margin.
Martin Steward of the Western Aboriginal Harm Reduction Society says it’s evident that what’s being sold isn’t heroin, because of how little it takes to overdose, its rainbow colouring and the behaviour it induces in those who use it.
The first four months of this year have seen more than 250 overdose fatalities from illicit drugs, with nearly half of those linked to fentanyl.
That’s compared to 480 deaths for all of 2015, only a third of which were fentanyl related.