A warning for recreational drug users: fentanyl-laced cocaine discovered in Montreal

Public health officials in Montreal say cocaine spiked with fentanyl has been detected in Montreal earlier this month, and at least one person has died from consuming it.

Dr. Carole Morissette with Montreal's Public Health Department says one other person in the city has overdosed from ingesting cocaine laced with fentanyl, and they're waiting on tests on two other people who are thought to have died after ingesting crack, to see if their deaths were caused by a fentanyl overdose.

Up to now, fentanyl overdoses have been detected in users of intravenous drugs such as heroin, but health officials now suggest a wider segment of the population — younger people, and occasional drug users — may be at risk.

"Recreational drug users and occasional drug users using a drug coming from the streets should be really aware of the risk of overdose," Dr. Morissette says. "We are trying to reach people to give them advice to prevent overdoses and prevent deaths."

The public health department is advising drug users not to consume alone — to be with someone who can call 9-1-1 in case a user feels drowsy, dizzy, is short of breath, has bluish lips or fingernails, a slowing heartbeat, or abnormally small pinpoint pupils.

Dr. Morissette is also reminding drug users to make sure they have access to naloxone, the drug used to treat narcotic overdoses, and which has been made available free of charge in Quebec pharmarcies since November.

"We are following the situation very closely, and we're asking all our partners to declare all specific cases they witness of overdoses," Dr. Morissette says.

Several deaths have been attributed to cocaine cut with fentanyl across North America in the past few years. Ingesting just a few grains of the depressant can be fatal.