Fentanyl, a potent painkiller is also an odourless, tasteless illicit street drug that is killing Canadians at an alarming rate and has been dubbed the “Kill Pill”.

Last year, from January to September in Alberta this synthetic opiate killed 213 Albertans, more than traffic fatalities in the same period, and the final numbers are due out in several weeks and the total looks grim.

Fentanyl is 50 – 100x stronger than morphine and easy to get on the street for as little as $10 pill up to $100 a pill in some northern Alberta communities.

What parents and kids need to know is that fentanyl is not just appearing on the street as powder pressed into fake Oxy pill forms (known as “greenies” or “beans”), but it is now lacing other drugs like marijuana, meth and cocaine – even made to look like Cialis or Viagra. Scarier still is the fact that a dose as little as two grains of salt will get a user high, and with the introduction of fentanyl into other drugs, it is impossible to know how much of the pill or powder is in the drugs. Users of these drugs may have no idea fentanyl is there and this could be fatal, regardless of how you take it – snorted, smoked, injected or ingested.

Fentanyl results really in two outcomes: addiction or overdose. It produces a euphoric high and pain relief. But overdosing can cause the blood pressure to plummet, slow breathing, cause deep sleep, induce coma or cause death. There are many videos online that explain overdosing and graphically detail an overdose and what it looks like. Fentanyl is highly addictive and building up a tolerance only means more pills are needed and user risk goes up.

Overdoses can, if caught in time, can be treated with Naloxone, the life-saving antidote that reverses the effects of opiate overdoses.

Currently, in Canada, Naloxone users need a prescription to get the antidote. Suspected overdoses need to be reported immediately to 911, and responders need to know they are answering a fentanyl overdose call so they can come with and administer Naloxone to try and save another life.