Back in my club kid days, we would pop pressed ecstasy tablets and chug water in abandoned warehouses and old beaten clubs, one of which is now The Gladstone Hotel. I’d dance until the early morning and as a teenager didn’t think much about the substances I was putting into my body. I was chasing a high and the pills gave me everything I wanted.
But that was in the late 90’s and early 2000’s and a lot of things have changed since then. For anyone who has been reading the papers, there has been a massive fentanyl problem taking a menacing toll across Canada. Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid analgesic that is similar to morphine but is 50 to 100 times more potent. In the last year, Fentanyl has been detected in about 60 percent of deaths this year in British Columbia alone.
The drug has slowly but surely been making it’s way into the nightclub scene and becoming a concern for those that take drugs such as cocaine and MDMA recreationally at clubs and music festivals. Drug cartels are now manufacturing and distributing fentanyl in white crystalline powder or pill form; clubgoers purchasing are not even getting what they intended and their drug purchase is actually 100 times more potent.
A lot of people pass judgement on those who recreationally do drugs, but this is not the issue. At this point, we should not be passing judgement and should be looking to solve the problem. Across the country, in clubs and at music festivals, we don’t see a lot of overdose prevention happening. Rather than event promoters passing a blind eye, they should be working with not-for-profit groups that often cater to recreational drug users—such as Toronto’s TRIP or Montreal’s GRIP to prevent overdoses from happening.
While club owners are not the one’s fully responsible for saving us from the fentanyl crisis, it’s good business for them to be responsible for their clients public health and safety. People who use recreational drugs face a lot of stigma and sometimes feel like they are afraid to come forward when they are feeling in distress or worse yet, overdosing. It’s better for those who are out at raves, clubs or at music festivals to have chill spaces and medical workers on site in case someone becomes in danger.
Toronto needs to recognize that the club scene is especially vulnerable right now and more training and overdose prevention workshops should be hosted for venue operators, staff, promoters, music community members, and the general public. Unless we know how to stop fentanyl or recognize the signs of an overdose as a community, then we can’t fight it together. These workshops need to be accessible so we can provide folks with the information and skills to help save lives.
Do you think we need to promote more education on Fentanyl within the entertainment industry? Share your thoughts with us in the comment section or tweet us at @ViewtheVibe.