A dangerous batch of drugs appearing to be crystal meth is circulating in Saskatoon and advocates are warning users not to take drugs alone.
On Wednesday afternoon, a person visited the supervised consumption site at Prairie Harm Reduction (PHR) to use what they believed was crystal meth. Instead, their drugs were laced with a large quantity of fentanyl.
"They immediately started overdosing," said PHR Executive Director Jason Mercredi.
PHR staff scrambled to respond, doing chest compressions, administering the overdose-reversal drug Naloxone and giving oxygen. In the end, Mercredi said staff administered 27 doses of Naloxone.
"It was all hands on deck for about 15 minutes there, trying to get the person stabilizied," said Mercredi. "We've never used that much Naloxone in our lives."
He said the person's health is now stable and PHR is working on getting them connected to housing and other services around the city.
"I think it shows the need for a service like this — the fact that we can stay engaged with this person, so they're not just flopping out into the street," Mercredi said.
"We can start working with them in a more coordinated approach and dealing with the issues that are most pressing for them."
But Mercredi is still worried about these tainted drugs and what it means for other users in the city.
"It was this pink crystal meth that was laced with fentanyl for sure, and we're starting to suspect that it may also have been laced with barbituates, like we're seeing in Vancouver and Alberta," he said. "It makes it much harder to revive somebody when you have fentanyl mixed with barbituates."
As of Thursday, Saskatoon Police said they had heard of one other person who overdosed on drugs they believed to be pink meth. Police said when they tested the drugs, they found that "the substance was in fact fentanyl, not meth."
Mercredi says drug users in Saskatoon need to be alert to this new potential danger and take steps to keep themselves safe.
"People on the street should be aware that if they come across it, they can expect that they are potentially going to overdose," he said. "They should definitely not be using alone, and they should have a Naloxone kit on hand."
And he also said events like this only reaffirm the importance of supervised consumption sites, which are prepared to respond to medical emergencies.
"Our facility can deal with this," he said. "But if somebody's out on the street or in a park or in a stairwell, there's not going to be many people who carry that much Naloxone on them."
Published on: April 16, 2021