Police warn of white fentanyl in Sault Ste. Marie

Sault Ste. Marie Police say a drug investigation and seizure uncovered a substance which turned out to be white fentanyl. April 3/21 (Mike McDonald/CTV News Northern Ontario)

Authorities in Sault Ste. Marie are alerting the public of the presence of white fentanyl in the city.

It’s the latest chapter in the Sault’s opioid crisis, with law enforcement and public health officials doing what they can to educate people on this new substance.

Sault Ste. Marie Police say a drug investigation and seizure uncovered a substance which turned out to be white fentanyl.

Police say the drug is particularly problematic as it can easily laced with or confused for other drugs.

“We want people just to be aware and to be extra cautious when it comes to their recreational activities and ensure that they’re being as careful as they can be because there’s the potential that something could be in a substance that they’re using and it could be fentanyl,” says Sault Police Spokesman Lincoln Louttit.

Local drug awareness group Save Our Young Adults - or SOYA - says confusing an opiate for something else can have serious consequences.

“People were buying it thinking it was cocaine, it was being sold as cocaine,” says SOYA Founder Connie Raynor-Elliot.

“Cocaine is a stimulant, where fentanyl is an opiate. So when all of a sudden you have a stimulant user getting a hit of opiates, you’re going to have overdoses.”

Algoma Public Health has a harm reduction strategy for users. In addition to keeping naloxone nearby, health officials say there are other things to keep in mind.

“Never using alone, and if that’s not possible, having someone that you trust check on you,” says Kristy Harper, Chief Nursing Officer at Algoma Public Health.

“Always start with a low dose and increase slowly, especially if trying something new or restarting use.”

Raynor-Elliot, meantime, says testing strips are a valuable tool in preventing accidental overdoses.

“If you need fentanyl testing strips, please contact HARP, contact OAHAS, and Algoma Public Health because we need these drugs tested,” she says.

“The main thing is, let’s keep people alive so when they want to get better they’re still here to make that choice.”

Raynor-Elliot says education is crucial to eliminating the stigma surrounding opioid abuse. She adds eliminating that stigma will go a long way toward conquering the opioid crisis.