An addictions expert is urging parents to talk to their kids about fentanyl in the wake of an overdose death in Saskatoon.
Police linked the deadly opioid to three of five overdose calls officers handled between May 5-7.
One of those three suspected fentanyl cases left an 18-year-old woman dead.
Dr. Peter Butt with the University of Saskatchewan said the economics of fentanyl make it a persistent problem right across Canada .
Unlike heroin, which has to be processed from poppy fields in the Middle East or Asia before being smuggled here, Butt said fentanyl’s supply chain is much shorter and less expensive.
He said criminals typically import a concentrated form of the drug into the country, then manufacture pills in clandestine labs.
The result is a drug that’s relatively cheap for users at about $20 to $40 a pill, but with a profit margin that makes it a major cash cow for organized crime.
“The markup is significant when that tablet might cost, in terms of the drug alone, four cents,” Butt said during an interview on Saskatchewan Afternoon.
Butt praised provincial efforts to get ahead of the crisis, which has caused hundreds of deaths this year alone in British Columbia and Alberta.
He noted the Government of Saskatchewan has made emergency kits available which can revive overdose victims, and has stepped up treatment efforts.
Still, Butt said there are often long wait times to access addiction treatment.
Butt said parents can play a major role in preventing tragedies by having honest discussions with their kids.
“Not to fear-monger, because of course (kids) look around their peer group and know a number of people that are using who aren’t dying from this. But they need to be informed with regards to the risk,” he said.
Butt said parents should have the conversation early and often.
“Make sure that families are sitting down around the table and having a conversation with their kids – and I’m talking about young adolescents right through, with regards to substance use,” he said.