Vancouver Coastal Health says in the nine months since it instituted a drug-testing pilot project at supervised injection site Insite, nearly 80 per cent of tests revealed the presence of fentanyl.
Insite introduced the tests, which use paper strips originally intended for urine samples, in September — hoping to push users towards harm reduction strategies.
The strips produce a yes or no response, and are unable to detect the presence of fentanyl analogues like carfentanil.
Officials say in the more than 1,000 drug tests conducted, 83 per cent of heroin samples contained fentanyl, while 82 per cent of crystal meth and 40 per cent of cocaine samples contained the powerful narcotic.
However, despite the alarming statistics, Coastal Health says there is a positive note.
The pilot project found that users who tested their drugs before taking them and found them to contain fentanyl were ten times more likely to take a smaller dose, and 25 per cent less likely to overdose.
However the majority of users, more than six in ten, opted to test their drugs after consumption, a statistic officials say they’d like to see change.
“We’d like to see more people check prior to their use so that we can determine whether this could be effective for people who don’t go to Insite or an overdose prevention site,” said Dr. Patricia Daly, VCH Chief Medical Health Officer in a statement.
Coastal Health says it will continue to make drug testing available at the site, and post the results for users to see.