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Police investigating spate of drug overdoses

Fentanyl citrate

Police are urging people to stay away from illegal drugs after a spate of non-fatal drug overdoses.

The Royal Gazette understands that there have been at least three reported overdose incidents in the past fortnight.

It was not confirmed what drugs caused the overdoses but police did issue a call for information regarding illicit drugs, especially those cut with fentanyl.

Detective Superintendent Nicholas Pedro said: “The BPS is aware of reports of suspected overdoses (no death involved) in recent days involving the use of illicit substances.

“While there may be media and public speculation around these matters, we are not yet in receipt of toxicology or other test results that would identify the suspected cause or causes.

“We note that the use of opioids (heroin) is well documented in Bermuda and is by no means a new practice.

“Opioids such as heroin are often ‘cut’ with fentanyl or carfentanil and other agents to increase profits and change the effect profile of the drug, which may be extremely dangerous to users, often resulting in overdose or death.

“While we recognise the scourges of addiction, we urge members of the public to stay away from the use of dangerous and illicit drugs, for the reasons outlined above.”

Police issued a warning in February after a man died from a suspected overdose said to be linked to heroin laced with fentanyl.

He was among several people taken to hospital because of the substance.

Camily Lovell, an internationally certified alcohol and drug counsellor at addiction treatment provider Pathways Bermuda, outlined some of the risks associated with mixing fentanyl.

“Mixing fentanyl with heroin, or any other opiate, is very dangerous for the entire body system.

“Any time somebody is using more than one depressant, which is a substance that slows down body functions like heart rate and breathing, they risk overdose.

“Fentanyl is especially potent, and has a much smaller margin of error, thus the risks are becoming increasingly higher.”

She said that gathering risk data is challenging, adding: “Statistics are unfortunately only as accurate as they can be recorded and many times that relies on small windows of time like in crisis situations.”

Fentanyl has been linked to deaths in the United States and elsewhere. A spokesman for the BPS said previously that there is no evidence to suggest that there is widespread use of the drug in Bermuda.

Earlier this year, a drugs expert, who asked not to be named, said: "From time to time, there is heroin in which fentanyl sometimes is used to stretch and/or increase the potency of the heroin.“

He said he was not aware of other illegal drugs being mixed with fentanyl.

The counsellor warned: "Just as a reminder, fentanyl is 100 times more powerful than heroin, and any use substantially increases the risk of respiratory distress, overdose and death.“

Fentanyl was reported on the island after a drugs seizure in December 2016.

The drug was also believed to have caused suspected overdoses at Westgate Correctional Facility in 2017.

Police are urging any members of the public with information regarding the sale, distribution or supply of any dangerous and or illegal drugs (especially with the inclusion of fentanyl) to contact the Drugs Unit on 211, or call CrimeStoppers on 800-8477.

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Published August 12, 2022 at 8:00 am (Updated August 12, 2022 at 9:51 am)

Police investigating spate of drug overdoses

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