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On September 6, Red Deer County Councillors Jean Bota and Christine Moore hosted a fentanyl awareness presentation at Poplar Ridge Hall. Fentanyl is an extremely dangerous new opioid drug that is causing a major increase in overdose deaths across Alberta. Joining the Councillors was Dr. Martin Davies from the University of Alberta and Corporal Brad McIntosh with RCMP “K” division.Dr. Martin Davies is an Associate Professor in the Department of Pharmacology at the University of Alberta. He currently runs a Drugs of Abuse course and a Toxicology course for the Department of Pharmacology. Dr. Davis provided a history of fentanyl; explaining that fentanyl belongs to the family of opioids along with morphine and heroin, and is 100 times stronger than other opioids.Dr. Davis explained how fentanyl blocks the neurotransmitters to the brain and shuts down communication in the body, which is why it is so lethal. The brain stem which has the neurons that control breathing aren’t receiving any information from the sensors that detect oxygen and carbon dioxide levels, which fire up a circuit instructing the diaphragm muscles to expand and contract taking in air. He spoke of how fentanyl blocks that signal and the body does not respond, which is the main reason individuals stop breathing.Cpl Brad McIntosh, the Team Leader of the RCMP ‘K’ Division Clandestine Lab Enforcement and Response (CLEAR) Team, is an 18 year member of the RCMP. He has been involved in a number of large scale illegal drug production and trafficking files, dealing with methamphetamines, ecstasy, MDMA and most recently fentanyl and other toxic opioids. Cpl McIntosh explained that fentanyl mainly comes from China, and is sold illegally in several different forms, such as pills or powder form. Different names for fentanyl are: apples, beans, eighties, fake oxy, green apples, shady eighties, germs, greenies and green beans. McIntosh said the pills are often crushed into powder and repressed with a cutting agent such as caffeine.He explained that fentanyl came into Canada in 2013 or 2014, and it has revolutionized drug trafficking and policing. McIntosh also advised that much of fentanyl is not in downtown areas, as some would assume, but in residential areas throughout Canadian cities.According to Councillor Bota, “Due to the high amount of deaths attributed to fentanyl overdoses, we organized this event for anyone who wanted to attend. We feel it is important to be proactive and raise awareness within our communities.”There were about 85 people in attendance. Many attendees asked questions of the experts, and the information shared will go a long way to educating local residents about the dangers of this drug.