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Fuck Fentanyl: Punks Stand up for Safe Partying

Saturday 02nd, September 2017 / 12:00


By Jessica Robb 

Overdose prevention gets loud.
Photo by Nadja Banky

CALGARY – There’s no doubt there’s a greatly romanticized cultural depiction of hard partying, one that is particularly celebrated and exacerbated by those within the music scene. It’s become as easy to find hard drugs as it is to find marijuana, and the timing could not be worse. Canada in the depths of an opioid crisis that has claimed at least 2458 people last year alone, making the tragic line between euphoria and fatal overdose so thin that two grains the size of salt can kill even the healthiest adult.  

This is fentanyl: a powerful synthetic opioid that is similar to morphine, but is 50 to 100 times more potent. Today it is found mixed with street drugs to enhance the associated effects of heroin and cocaine. The high potency of fentanyl greatly increases the risk of an overdose, especially as bootleg versions of the drug become more attainable and variations of the drug (carfentanil) grow even more toxic.   

“It’s not the fear of getting addicted anymore… It’s the fear of immediately dying that should be scaring people,” says Abby Blackburn of the band Ripperhead.  

Blackburn saw a need to educate the Edmonton punk community on the realities of the fentanyl crisis after witnessing some friends come fatally close to an overdose first hand. As such, she’s organized a presentation and gig at DV8 in September to help folks become better educated on the crisis.  

“I don’t want it to be a D.A.R.E. program. People want to party, it’s their life and they’re in control of it… I just want them to be safe about it. And that’s where the naloxone kits come in,” explains Blackburn.  

Naloxone kits are now available at pharmacies across Alberta, and contain a drug that can reverse an opioid overdose by pushing opioids off the receptors in the brain to restore normal breathing. The effects only last 20 to 90 minutes, which is enough time to call 9-1-1 and seek professional medical attention.  

“It’s basically the rule of three: don’t party alone, make sure you have this kit and know where your supplier is coming from,” Blackburn encourages. 

The kits are free to pick up at most pharmacies and will also be provided at the event for attendees to take home as part of the presentation by Alberta Health Services. If you’re unable to attend, Alberta Health Services website also features a lengthy list of locations where they are available.  

Blackburn has brought together four local punk bands to provide the music for the night, to scream in the face of fentanyl and even open up with their own personal struggles. While punk rock may be the lens to view the issue through on this particular occasion, the event isn’t specific to the punk community.

Blackburn welcomes anyone who wants to get educated, regardless of genre preference.  

“I just want everyone to know that there’s a lot of love and heart in everything that [the punk community] does, and even though our music may be aggressive at times… We’re still happy about it,” affirms Blackburn. “That’s the number one thing: just always be happy about it, because you only get one life.”  


Fuck Fentanyl will be taking place September 8 at DV8 Tavern (Edmonton). The event includes a presentation by an Alberta Health Services representative as well as a potluck. SASS, Whiskey Wagon, The Unreliables, and NME will perform after the presentation. For a list of pharmacies where naloxone Kits are available, visit

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