Guelph police release video warning after 3 possible overdose deaths

Guelph police have released a video after responding to several overdose calls and three deaths believed to be fentanyl-related over the past two weeks.
Waterloo Regional Police seized this purple substance, suspected to contain fentanyl, on March 22. Now, health officials in Guelph say the substance may have been involved in overdoses there. (WRPS)

Guelph police have released a video after responding to several overdose calls and three deaths believed to be fentanyl-related over the past two weeks.

Wellington Guelph Drug Strategy tweeted about the possible overdose deaths late Monday, adding there were two "overdose reversals" and indicated purple fentanyl/purple heroin was surfacing in Guelph.

The announcement of these overdose deaths and reversals follows a report from Guelph's Overdose Prevention Site that five lives have been saved through overdose reversals at the site since opening two months ago.

Wellington Guelph Drug Strategy first learned of the three deaths through the community of people who use their services at the overdose prevention site, manager Adrienne Crowder told CBC News.

She said toxicology reports had not yet confirmed the deaths as overdoses, but they wanted to get information out about purple fentanyl and purple heroin.

"We want people to know that it is particularly potent, for lack of better words, and that there is a risk with any drug that comes from an illegal lab," she said.

The street drugs are purple from food colouring added to the supply, said Crowder.

Crowder said a drug supplier could be using the same scale to weigh out fentanyl as they might to weigh cocaine and this could result in cross-contamination of the drugs.

"There's a risk with any drug that comes from an illegal lab," said Crowder. "There are what are called hot spots and hot spots mean that there is an over-concentration of fentanyl, carfentanil or a fentanyl-analog so that the drug is not evenly mixed throughout the product."

Anyone using a non-regulated illegal substance is at risk of being exposed to one of those hot spots, she said.

"And, if there's no one around to help, then there is a risk of an overdose," said Crowder.

Crowder said she wants anyone using street drugs to use as safely as possible.

"I would want people to be using carefully; that they use with someone else, that they test their product, that they have naloxone handy," she said.

"And for our community, I think it's important to know that the opioid crisis is present in Guelph," said Crowder. "It's a public health issue. We are losing people to their addiction."

With files from Joe Pavia

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