The Rock Bottom High: The Importance of Checking Drugs


Kelowna is no stranger to the opioid crisis that's taken hold in BC. 

Two drug alerts have been issued for the city this month. 

Dr. Karin Goodison, a Medical Health Officer with Interior Health, says the latest was issued February 6th. 

"The recent one in Kelowna describes a light blue powder and a dark blue powder... people were buying it and thought it was either down or fentanyl or heroin and it actually contained fentanyl and benzodiazepines."

Goodison says drug alerts are issued when any drug testing shows contamination in a drug that could increase risk of overdose or a notice comes in from the RCMP. 

"They generally stay in affect for a week. We recognize that drugs do change over time, and so this ongoing testing and letting people know what's in the currently circulating drugs is an effective way to let people know any additional steps they can take to stay safe."

Benzodiazepines are one of the top culprits locally. 

The other is fentanyl. 

Dr. Jane Buxton, Medical Lead for Harm Reduction at the BC Centre for Disease Control, says it's a fast acting, dangerous substance. 

"Fentanyl is not only a very toxic drug, but it works very quickly. So, if somebody overdoses and they stop breathing there's no oxygen really getting to the brain and that's the concern."

More than 80 percent of overdose deaths last year contained fentanyl or its analogues. 

So how and where can you get your drugs checked?

Dr. Goodison says locally you can go to Living Positive Resource Centre, The Bridge Outreach, or UBC's harm reduction program to make sure the drugs are safe. 

Don't let police be the reason you don't test your drugs.

Kelowna RCMP Corporal Jocelyn Noseworthy says they aren't out to get you.  

"In Canada we're more interested in safety than anything else. We'd certainly encourage people to do what you can to keep safe. Above and beyond we'd like to see everyone healthy and not have addictions issues, but we're certainly not out there hunting for the people trying to ensure their own safety."

Minister for Mental Health and Addictions Sheila Malcolmson says the province continues to work towards decriminalizing personal possession.