Marijuana may be the drug of choice for British Columbians, but it's not the only substance that the City of Surrey will be talking about during Substance Use Awareness Week (SUAW).
The third annual awareness campaign aims to educate Surreyites on the addictive nature of such hard drugs as cocaine and heroin, but also lesser known substances that can be damaging.
At the May 6 council meeting, Coun. Barinder Rasode stressed the importance of informing residents about doda and afeem, two opiates derived from poppy plants that are illegal and considered to be highly addictive. Doda comes in the form of a powder while afeem is a black, tar-like substance.
"They're being treated as holistic-type products, but in fact, they have quite significant addictive qualities," said Rasode. "They are federally now being recognized as something that should be a controlled substance."
Rasode said the drugs - popular pain relief remedies - are used primarily by elderly people in the South Asian community, and that many don't realize the negative effects of the drugs such as sleepiness, itching, slow breathing and nausea.
"Because it is seen as holistic remedy, it's really important to educated people about the addictive qualities of both of these products," she said.
"The challenge is that, at this point, there were some businesses in Surrey who were selling the product."
According to a SUAW fact sheet, high amounts of both drugs can cause death by loss of breath or causing one to choke on their own vomit.
Rajpal Singh, an addictions counsellor in Surrey, said that the prevalence of doda has dropped sharply over the last few years as local police have cracked down on shops that used to sell the illegal drug. "The availability has decreased, so the use has decreased significantly."
However, he noted that doda can be as addictive as heroin and morphine - all of which contain opium.
"Doda doesn't have that much opium in it, so it doesn't give you a big rush, but it still equally makes you physically and psychologically dependent on it," he said. firstname.lastname@example.org
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