CANADA—More than a thousand Canadians died in the first quarter of 2018, thanks to the opioid crisis. Now, addicts are turning their backs on a drug that was either a great high or a death sentence. In Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta, crystal meth has become the new overdose drug of choice.

“That fake fentanyl is deadly,” said Regina street worker Annabelle. “I’m not messing with that stuff. Crystal meth is a much safer choice.” Annabelle said she misses the opioid-fueled daydreams she used to have about fields filled with flowers, but admits that feeling like she needs to run a marathon is better than being dead.

Once docile opioid users are being replaced by the unpredictable mood swings of those high on meth. Junkies who were grateful to see paramedics ready to administer fentanyl-reversal drugs are now challenging first responders to cage matches. Local drug dealers, police, and counselors at supervised consumption sites have noticed the trend and are reacting. “There’s a lot more smoking going on in the facilities,” said Calgary counselor Steve Arkin. “Fewer people are asking for Naloxone kits and we’ve seen an uptick in skinny and paranoid clients.”

Drug dealers report that the shift in the market is both good and bad. A man who identified himself as Mr. High said, “People in my line of business have had to diversify our offerings to meet the needs of discerning patrons.” High said crystal meth users tend to be repeat customers who stick around longer overall, but he can charge more for a dose of fentanyl.

By Molly Donovan

I grew up in the USA, but don't hold that against me because I'm also Canadian. Just think of me as the mole.

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