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“I had to watch him die…”

“It was my friend’s birthday yesterday. I had to watch him die… and there was nothing I could do to save him…”

These are the words that came from a homeless man I had spoken to after sparking up a random conversation on the bus.

It was obvious this man was had seen better days. His clothes were tattered and dirty, obviously worn out, with holes here and there, some so big that made me wonder, why even wear it. His hands, dark from the dirt, were calloused with scars running across some of his fingers. His face was filthy, and he looked like he hadn’t shaved for a long time. The stench that came from him almost made me puke, which was probably why no one was sat next to him.

Normally, I would ignore the homeless that I meet on the bus, but today was different. I could tell by the tone of this man, that he needed someone to listen, someone to care. Upon hearing this, I knew that this man wanted to get something off his chest, so I asked, “I’m sorry to hear that, what happened?”

He looked out the window, paused and let out a deep sigh and said, “It’s that fucking fentanyl. It’s killing all my friends,” and after another painful pause, the man looked down and said, “the sad part is, no one seems to be able to do anything about it…”

I instantly felt a sharp pain of guilt in my heart. There was a secret that many would never have known about me. I used to be a drug dealer, and fentanyl was one of the drugs I sold. I knew all about the dangers of it. I knew how powerful that drug could be, especially if used incorrectly, but it was so profitable, and I was young and stupid at the time and only cared about myself.

I was lucky enough to have not killed anyone because of my choices.

“We’ve been friends for over 14 years… He taught me a lot about these streets. It’s not easy out here, you know?”

I couldn’t look the man in the eyes, so I just stared at his shoes and replied, “I wouldn’t know, but I could imagine how hard it is… How long have you been living here?”

“I’ve been living on the Downtown Eastside since 1999,” the homeless man answered. “14 years, now he’s gone…”

I looked up for a second and saw tears slowly welling up in his eyes.

This man, who had been living in the poorest part of town for almost 20 years, clearly hadn’t seen many happy days. However, it was also clear that he didn’t experience his days alone.

But now his friend was gone.

I asked, “Why didn’t you call 911?”

He replied with a snarl, “They fucking took forever, by then it was too late.”

I could sense the anger in his reply, “I’m sure they didn’t mean to.”

“I’m not blaming them. I’m sure they were off somewhere trying to save some other addicts life,” he stated. “This happens every day. Every hour there is someone ODing. Every hour someone is on the verge of death. But no one cares, we’re just bums to them. Garbage.”

I started to feel really uncomfortable as I sat there. My mind started racing back to my past. The memories of laughing and counting money, talking about profits and how stupid these addicts were. I was so proud and ignorant, I didn’t care for human life, but here I was, feeling guilty as fuck and heartbroken for this man.

I hadn’t stopped to consider what it would be like to be on the opposite end of the stick. I had only seen what was in front of me, I never bothered to look beyond that. These people are humans too. They just want to be happy. They experience life just as we do, but they made some wrong decisions which made them vulnerable, and I took advantage of that.

At this point, I stopped responding to the homeless man, I felt so guilty and angry with myself, I couldn’t find any words to respond with.

After the homeless man wiped his face with his dirty hands, he got up and exclaimed, “Here’s my stop, off to the block to get my fix, wish me luck!”

And with that, he got off the bus, without looking back, as if nothing had happened.

Fentanyl

For those who don’t know what Fentanyl is. Fentanyl is a synthetic opiate narcotic, a prescription drug used primarily for cancer patients in severe pain.

Fentanyl
Credits CBC

Fentanyl is 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine. It is so powerful that even a single grain of fentanyl is capable of killing the average human. Hence, why it is so dangerous.

Fentanyl
Credits CTV

Fentanyl is also highly addictive. It usually comes in the form of a patch that is applied to the skin, but I have known people to cut these patches into strips and suck on them to get high.

It has no taste or smell, which makes it even more dangerous.

Within the last 5 years, Fentanyl has become increasingly popular, but not by user’s choice. The introduction, based on my knowledge, was slow at first. But as many dealers realized the profitability in the narcotic, more and more people began to embrace it for the profits.

Fentanyl

It is possible to turn one kilo of fentanyl into five more. However, I have heard of instances where suppliers were able to cut one kilo into nine. That means, for every one kilo, you can potentially make five to nine more kilos. That is an insane return on investment and is evidently the reason why people choose to sell it.

Fentanyl
Credits Global News

Cutting fentanyl is traditionally done to increase profits, but is also a sad attempt to make the drug less lethal and consumable. The only downside is since competition is so great among rival dealers, the narcotic is cut for maximum profit, but also maximum high.

The BC Coroners Service says it recorded 876 suspected drug overdose deaths in the province through the first seven months of 2017 and fentanyl was detected in 81 percent of them.

As of the end of July 2016, B.C. had seen 482 overdose deaths, with 60 percent involving fentanyl. A significant increase from the year before.

Drug dealers are using fentanyl was found in combination with other illicit drugs, most often cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine.

B.C. declared a public-health emergency and the government and its partner agencies have opened around 20 overdose-prevention sites, supervised injection sites as well as using opened shared rooms in social-housing buildings to encourage drug users not to use alone.

Fentanyl
Credits The Globe and Mail

Fentanyl is not only a problem among drug addicts in poor communities, it is becoming a huge problem in the form of fake Oxycontin pills that are consumed by young people. No two pills are the same dosage of fentanyl, each one may vary from the next, because of this young people are not only becoming addicts to this highly addictive narcotic, but many have lost their lives to this sinister drug.

Parents, loved ones, and friends, it is our job to protect the ones we love by bringing awareness to this issue. This is the only way we can stop this epidemic. Tell your kids, your loved ones, and your friends to stop before it is to late. Fentanyl can be found in almost anything, don’t wait til it is too late.

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