Victoria not seeing spike in heroin overdoses

Police in the Fraser Valley are warning about a potent form of heroin in Abbotsford, after a spike in overdoses – and one death

While police in the Fraser Valley are warning about a potent form of heroin on the streets in Abbotsford, after a spike in overdoses – and one death – in recent weeks, police departments in Greater Victoria say that’s not the case here.

There are concerns the potent heroin either has a higher purity than usual, or it could be mixed with the synthetic drug fentanyl, which is about four or five times as strong as heroin.

“If it’s pure fentanyl you only need about a fifth of the amount that you would normally take. So if you drink scotch, it’d be like having five scotches in the volume of one scotch,” said Dr. Perry Kendall, B.C.’s provincial health officer.

Saanich police Sgt. Steve Eassie says so far Victoria and Saanich haven’t seen a noticeable jump in overdoses in the community.

Kendall says he supports the police putting out the warning to heroin users, especially given that there could be an increased risk in overdosing on the drug.

“The advice is to avoid injected or ingesting illicit drugs at all possible. If not and people are going to ingest, they should do so cautiously,” the health officer said. “It’s particularly risky for people who may have been off drugs for a while. … You really do run the risk of the amount you’ve been used to taking can be way too much, and if you run into a strong batch or something mixed with fentanyl, it can be really serious or cause death.”

Victoria-raised actor Cory Monteith died on July 13 in Vancouver from an overdose of heroin and alcohol. The B.C. Coroners Service said fentanyl did not play a role in his death.

– with files from Vikki Hopes

kslavin@saanichnews.com