A person needed 27 shots of naloxone to survive an overdose of tainted crystal meth in Saskatoon
SASKATOON -- Prairie Harm Reduction (PHR) is warning of a bad batch of pink crystal meth that was laced with fentanyl and possibly a barbiturate after someone using its safe consumption site overdosed Thursday.
Barbiturates are drugs that act as a depressant to the central nervous system.
“It kind of feels like we got lucky this time,” executive director Jason Mercredi said.
“We were just grateful that we were able to catch this one and then stop somebody from dying.”
The person was at the consumption site around 3 p.m. Thursday and injected what they thought was crystal meth, but ended up having a bad reaction, according to Mercredi.
He said the paramedic and support worker who were on site could immediately tell that something wasn’t right and began administering naloxone and doing chest compressions.
He said it took 27 shots of naloxone to revive the person — the highest number they’ve ever had to do.
“Before that I think (the most) was like nine or 14, around there, and that’s even a lot. And it’s just showing that the potency is getting quite intense. This is a person who’s trying to deal with their addiction and they’re trying to get through it and they’re coming to us for help.”
This comes just over a week after the Saskatchewan budget denied funding to PHR’s safe consumption site.
The site, which operates Monday-to-Friday during the day, applied for additional funding to expand its hours, but was rejected.
However, the community has been stepping up to help raise money to operate the site 24/7.
Mercredi said this incident speaks to the need for safe consumption sites not only in Saskatoon, but in the province.
“It’s showing that drug supply is getting more toxic here in the city and you know I think it’s showing that clearly our services work because that person made it through. We could get them stabilized.”
Mercredi said staff have notified the public through social media and have alerted police and other community organizations.
“You don’t know if it’s going to be a one and done situation or if there’s going to be multiple. And you know, our first responders are always responding to overdoses throughout Saskatoon and we try to work as proactively as we can to let them know about these issues as they arise,” Mercredi said.
The Saskatoon Police Service (SPS) said its Drug Unit was made aware of an overdose at a hospital Friday where the victim said they consumed pink meth.
Police tested the drugs and said it was in fact fentanyl, not meth.
SPS said its Drug Unit has not seen or heard of pink meth being marketed in the city, but reiterates that people should be cautious about purchasing drugs off the street.
“We would advise the community that any drug that is not prescribed by a doctor and dispensed by a pharmacist poses a very real risk to cause severe injury or death,” SPS said in a statement to CTV News.
Mercredi said he hopes they can also work with the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) to get some infrastructure in place in the future so they can alert the public about tainted drugs on a wide scale.
He also encourages people to have their own naloxone kit on hand and for them to be made more widely available.
“I don’t think anybody is going to have the amount of kits that we had on hand but even one kit has three shots in it, and it’s going to buy enough time that first responders are going to be able to get there. So, clearly naloxone is a life-saving measure.”