Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Sunday, August 09, 2015

Self-Motivated Monumental Self-Harm

"I fell asleep for 14-plus hours…luckily I got woken up because otherwise they would have had to amputate my leg if it went on any longer."
"At first I had to slowly graduate from the bed, to holding onto things, to a wheelchair, to a walker, to a cane, to holding my friend, and eventually I was able to walk again."
"I’m terrified for my friends that I used to use with. I tag them on Facebook stories, begging them to stop, and they don’t. They don’t care. They just keep going."
"It doesn’t matter how you use, where you get it, where you are, what your intentions are, your status, your bank account."
"I thought I was untouchable, and I learned a huge lesson. I want the people watching [video] to learn from my mistake. I’m here alive today to give them that."
Lynn, Vancouver musician

"Even though the Downtown Eastside experiences the most overdoses, that’s not where we’re seeing deaths in the Vancouver area."
Dr. Mark Lysyshyn, Medical Health Officer for Vancouver Coastal Health

"The reality is these drugs are being used, they’re being used a lot, they’re being used recreationally and socially by parts of society that we would never dream would [use them], but it’s also developing into a serious problem."
Michael Pond, Vancouver psychotherapist, working with drug addicts

"Fentanyl is not being made here. It's being made elsewhere ... then coming here and then it gets into the hands of the people who mix it in their bathtub and put in some blue dye or green dye and get a pill press and make it into fake Oxy[Contin]."
Sgt.Lindsey Houghton, Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit, British Columbia

Fentanyl, a powerful opioid, has been linked of late to overdose deaths in Western Canada. It enters Canada through a drug trafficking route of long duration and it is steadily killing some of its users just as tainted ecstasy before it did. The painkiller, it is assumed by provincial authorities, is imported from Asia to the West Coast, moved along to the B.C. black market and to Alberta through organized crime groups, because there's a lot of money to be made.

Back in 2012 a similar occurrence had investigators probing batches of ecstasy mixed with a lethal, but unknown substance. The source then was not identified, but presumed to have emanated from Asia, and it didn't take long for overdose deaths to begin accumulating. "I think there is something of a trade route, and it's one we saw in place at the time of ecstasy lacing", affirmed criminologist Rob Gordon of Simon Fraser University.

The musician quoted above, Lynn, had been puffing heroin last month.. She began suffering symptoms of overdose. By the time her roommate arrived she was found convulsing, suffering a severe seizure. Her roommate managed to bring her to consciousness, and call emergency. At the hospital Lynn was in a coma for two days and then spent another eight days in the ICU. Since that event she has only now managed to begin walking again on her own.

In a two-week period in the Metro Vancouver area, police have linked four overdose deaths to fentanyl, with authorities and health officials stating that people using the drug have no idea what it is they're taking into their bodies. All they're aware of is that euphoric high and relief from pain. Overdosing can cause a huge drop in blood pressure, leading to slowed breathing, followed by deep sleep, coma or death.
Jack Bodie, teen fentanyl overdose victim
Jack Bodie, 17, died after taking fake Oxycontin laced with fentanyl, police said. (Facebook)

Which is what it is assumed killed a couple in their early 30s who died in their North Vancouver home on July 20. A 17-year-old boy and a 31-year-old man died in separate, similar incidents in the past week. That's the tip of the iceberg of fentanyl-caused mortalities. Over 500 people have died across British Columbia and Alberta since 2013 under similar circumstances; the victims imagining they're taking OxyContin or using heroin, without knowing it's spiked with fentanyl.

There's always the mystery why people gravitate to using illegal drugs. Why some people succumb while others don't. When drug manufacturers altered the OxyContin formula to no longer make it useful to be crushed and snorted or smoked, fentanyl made its entry to the illicit drug market. It was soon obvious to crime syndicates that selling fentanyl as OxyContin or heroin would represent good business.

The problem is that fentanyl is up to one hundred times more toxic than morphine; its very potency is a killer. Turkey and China are considered to be the places of origin. When it ends up in Canada coming in as a cheap raw powder, criminal gangs press it into pills to market it as something it is not. Distribution channels are not yet transparent to investigators, but police do know that many gangs are involved.

The low production overheads are attractive to the criminal element, where pills can sell in the range of $50 to $100 on the street. How people who use them fare is of little interest to the profit-oriented and conscienceless criminal mind. That's no mystery, however; there will always been psychopaths in any society. The mystery lies in what it is that propels people to place their health in such compromised situations, and risk life for an instant of ecstasy rather than face the realities of life head on.

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