It’s not just a big city problem.
The growing fentanyl crisis is equally concerning in small towns.
Police and health officials in Smith Falls Ontario held a public meeting on Tuesday to specifically address those concerns.
“It’s definitely in our community right now and we know it’s here,” says Cst. Aaron Tompkins, Community Services Officer with the Smiths Falls Police. "We're trying to get ahead of it. We haven't had a whole bunch yet so that's why we're really trying to be proactive with it."
Statistics show there is little difference in the rates of opioid use between smaller communities like Smiths Falls and larger centres like Ottawa. Fentanyl is a particularly addictive, potentially deadly opioid that is often laced into other drugs or disguised as counterfeit pills. More often than not it is ingested unknowingly, often by young people.
“We really want parents to talk to their kids,” says Jennifer Adams, Harm Reduction Program Coordinator with the Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit. “It's a very difficult conversation to start with your kids but it's really important, the younger the better.”
Smiths Falls resident Kayla Sullivan was hoping to escape the drug problems that have plagued her family when she and her children moved from Toronto a few years ago, but says drug use is just as prevalent here.
Instead, she's taken a pro-active approach She volunteered to train in the use of a naloxone kit, an injection that can temporarily reverse a fentanyl overdose.
"I can save their life," says Sullivan. "I'm trained to do that now before a first responder can even arrive. I wanted to do that so I'm able to help someone so this can be prevented a little more."