SK harm reduction service obtains new spectrometer

Apr 20, 2023

Earlier in March, the Saskatoon drug testing service Prairie Harm Reduction began using a spectrometer to test drugs.

“This machine is able to tell us everything that is in a substance, not just fentanyl and benzodiazepine, and will allow us to do better education and actually track better data around toxic drug supply in our community,” said executive director Kayla DeMong during her interview with Global News.

A spectrometer is an instrument that can be used to analyze the characteristics and components of a substance. given characteristic for a substance. Importantly, a spectrometer machine can be used to identify illicit drugs and dangerous adulterants in drug samples prior to their consumption. “This machine is able to tell us everything that is in a substance, not just fentanyl and benzodiazepine, and will allow us to do better education and actually track better data around toxic drug supply in our community,” said DeMong.

In addition, DeMong also added that the organization has seen an increase in fentanyl detection in drugs tested, in addition to witnessing an increase in individuals knowingly using fentanyl.

“Our overdose data continues to rise and we’re definitely seeing more and more concern within the safe consumption site for the substances that people are using, and so having the spectrometer allows us to do a little bit more education, a little bit better data tracking on what has been seen within the province, and what is coming through as far as trafficking.”

According to the latest data released by the federal government, rates of opioid-related poisoning hospitalizations continue to remain highest in British Columbia, Saskatchewan, and Alberta. Furthermore, Saskatchewan witnessed a record number of lives lost to fatal drug overdoses in 2022, as the Saskatchewan Coroner’s Service estimated that there were 421 confirmed and suspected drug toxicity deaths in 2022.

With increasing numbers of deadly overdoses, advocacy groups have been urging the government to take more action on drug overdoses, including providing more funding to safe consumption sites in the province.

“We’ve got a government who still doesn’t want to look at what we need to do in sending the proper messaging out to people that your kids are dying,” the Saskatchewan lead for Moms Stop the Harm, Marie Agioritis said in her interview with CBC Radio’s Saskatoon Morning. “If they overdose at Prairie Harm, policing doesn’t hardly ever have to do anything about it because they’re taken care of there,” she added. “They have medical professionals there who could help them.”