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Regina harm reduction site warns users as drug overdoses have increased recently

Regina’s Newo Yotina Friendship Centre, which includes a supervised injection site, sent out a public warning following recent drug overdoses in the city.

Using the Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) machine, the friendship centre tests samples of street drugs in Regina as part of its harm reduction.

Recently, they have tested substances containing fentanyl, xylazine and benzodiazepines.

“There’s been some stuff going around that’s been dropping a lot of people,” said Emile Gariepy, the friendship centre’s harm reduction manager. “We’ve had many overdoses around on the streets and the safe injection site as well, too. It’s been busy the last little while.”

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Gariepy calls it a potent mixture that Narcan can’t always reverse.

“Xylazine is the animal sedative or tranquilizer (that) we’re noticing more than fentanyl,” he said. “About 95 per cent of all fentanyl has Xylazine right now.”

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Gariepy encourages local residents to test their drugs to avoid any more drug overdoses. Although none of them have been fatal, he said it’s always a risk when using.

“Our message with our harm reduction is just know what you used before. Know what you’re taking, know what’s inside of your drugs and use them safely,” he said.

“We have places for you to use it safely, and we have our FTIR drug-checking machine to check what’s inside of it and to give you the education that you need to use and safely as well, too.”

Regina Fire Chief Layne Jackson said crews have responded to 14 overdose incidents in the last week. They have seen a higher frequency of reports in the inner city and Regina’s city centre.

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