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Canada's Counterfeit Opiate Painkiller Problem

Our neighbors to the north are no strangers to the opiate epidemic. In fact, some experts say that the problem in Canada may be worse than that of the United States when it comes to abuse. The similarities between the two countries shows that no matter where you live, opiates have the same effect on everyone that abuses them. Many addicts start off using as they receive a euphoric high which many feel enjoyable and cheap enough to do from time to time for fun. The problem is that the abuser's "time to time" will never happen. The following day many convince themselves to use it again. They rationalize their use by saying it's only two days in a row, and they will stop the next day. This trend keeps on happening until the user finds themselves addicted.

In Canada, the popular pharmaceutical painkiller known as Oxycontin is no longer available and has been banned by the government. The banning of the prescription drug has opened the door to organized crime organizations who manufacture their own street pills. They were first seen on the street around 5 years ago and were sold as counterfeit oxycodone pills. The pills had the markings CDN on one side and the number "80" on the other. When tested, the pills came back as Fentanyl. Fentanyl is a very strong opiate that according to the Canadian Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is 80-90 times as potent as morphine and hundreds of times more potent than heroin.

According to one recovering addict, everyone is abusing pills. It doesn't matter how young people are, kids as young as 9th graders have been seen using and selling pills. He says the epidemic is everywhere. The pills have been associated with at least two deaths in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.  According to the recovering addict, he personally knows of at least seven other people who overdosed and died on the fentanyl pills.

According to data from the Canadian Alcohol and Drug Use Monitoring Survey, 243,000 Canadians reported abusing opiates in 2012. The journal Addiction reported that in 2010, nearly one of every eight deaths of adults between the ages of 25 and 34 in Ontario were related to opioid use. Brad Bodnarchuk, who works as an addictions counselor in Saskatoon, said he's seen children as young as Grade 8 getting hooked on opiates.

"It's been around a long time. It's only when we have had deaths like we do that everyone goes 'Whoa.' It's what we call a ground zero moment," he said


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