South Okanagan Drug Alert – Beige Down

Interior Heath has issued a DRUG ALERT for the South Okanagan after an increase in overdose activity associated with a beige substance sold as ‘Down/Fentanyl’. This substance has been found to contain Fentanyl with no cuts/buffs (additives).


High risk of overdose and  death. 

 Please be aware of safer drug use tips that can help prevent overdose as well as where to access naloxone, drug checking and other overdose prevention services in your community. 

No matter what or how you use (smoking, snorting, injecting) take steps to prevent overdose

  • Know the risks when mixing drugs
  • If you must use while alone, consider using the Lifeguard app which can connect you with 911 emergency responders if you overdose. Download at the App Store or Google Play.   
  • When using your substance start with a small amount, and then go slow.
  • Use with others or at an Overdose Prevention or Supervised Consumption Site, if one is near you.
  • Know how to respond to an overdose – call 911, give rescue breaths and naloxone.

New Normal – Drug Checking at Festivals

New Normal

Harm reduction in a post-pandemic festive context

Festivals, gatherings, parties.

After a two year hiatus, we are preparing to gather in thousands under the love of music, friendship, dancing, arts and whatever your jam is. The Interior Health region usually hosts an incredible variety of events and this year is no exception. But what has changed?

Festivals are an experimental ground for a population that converges from all walks of life. Some are seasoned lifers that live and breathe the music and culture, while some may be first timers, curious and eager to have fun on a summer weekend. All will be looking forward to a feeling of connection, new experiences and hedonistic opportunities, long awaited since the start of the pandemic. Many will choose to transform their experience through the use of drugs, from well known alcohol to, new for some, illicit substances.

The pandemic created a situation where there has been significant transformations in the drug supply, witnessed through drugs checked by community drug checking endeavors. These changes have been tragic for all of us, with consequences ranging from drug related health complications to higher death rates than ever.

As well as the drug supply issues, there will also be newcomers to the scene, with perhaps less knowledge about the drugs that they are curious to experiment with. Keen partiers may also feel the urge to partake in substance use more than usual, as the burgeoning excitement of being back together intensifies.

This year, Interior Health is contributing to Drug Checking efforts in festive situations. In partnership with community organizations, there will be FTIR and test strip drug checking services offered at both Bass Coast and Shambhala Music festival, events that gather approximately 5000 and 16000 people respectively. Some smaller events are serviced by their local harm reduction related agencies. Not only do these services enable people who use drugs to make informed choices about their use, they also allow an incredible opportunity to engage in a conversation around drugs, providing education in the scope of harm reduction.

Drug checking services at festivals allow us to monitor what is circulating in the ever changing supply and act upon it. Extra vigilance will be paramount for this summer’s festivals. After a 2 year interruption, the only thing that we can say for sure is that risk and inconsistency are unquestionably the “new normal” within the illicit drug supply.

If you plan to use substances this year, consider using one of the drug checking services spread across the IHA region. Find out where is the closest to you at

Link to pdf poster : New Normal – What is in your drugs


“What’s in My Drugs?” – BCCSU video on drug checking

BCCSU – Drug Checking in the DTES in Vancouver

This video produced by the British Columbia Centre on Substance Use depicts the process of using an Overdose Prevention site that offers drug checking.


Filmed at the Molson Overdose Prevention Site (MOPS) in Vancouver, BC, “What’s in My Drugs?” explains what happens when a person goes to a drug checking service.

Drug checking allows people to find out more about what is in their drugs, empowering people who use drugs to make better-informed decisions about their substance use. In this short documentary-style video, different workers on site are interviewed, such as a drug checking technician and expert, providing insight on why drug checking is an important harm reduction strategy for people who use drugs.

In loving memory of Ben Stevenson (1987 – 2022)


Hot Spots

Strength of down can vary within a batch and even in the same bag.

Whenever a drug is diluted with other ingredients, like Caffeine and Sugars for Down, there is a change of the concentration of fentanyl to be unequally spread through the batch.

Using slow and low reduces risks. One puff may be stronger than the previous one!

Staggering doses may not give as much of a rush, but it helps prevent overdosing.

As an example, multiple light blue down  samples were tested in Penticton this week. They all presented the same composition: Caffeine, Erythritol and Fentanyl. The big difference was that they ranged in concentration from 15% all the way to 35%!

Down of all colors can vary in strength.

Get your drugs checked!

ANKORS Nelson – Drug Checking Report – Week of February 17, 2022

It was a busy week for drug checking at ANKORS in Nelson. They were in Grand Forks on Tuesday and in Trail on Wednesday for testing – the rest of the week was spent in Nelson. Please find details in attached report.

View full report here.

When Ketamine is not Ketamine.

Testing ketamine highly recommended for West Kootenay Communities!

A white crystalline powder with the appearance of ketamine is circulating in the West Kootenays. Sold as ketamine or K, it actually tests as an intermediate chemical for the synthesis of opioids with nothing else detected.  There is no history of human use for this substance and thus, we are not able to tell what dangers may be associated with it. According to people who have tried it, it has no noticeable effect.

There has also been occurrence of this unusual chemical appearing mixed together with ketamine. This means that even if the ketamine you have seems to have some effect, there is still a risk of taking a substance with no record of it having been tried by humans.

To see pictures of the ketamine tested, check out the results page by clicking here.

We highly recommend testing your Ketamine, especially if it has been acquired recently!

ANKORS in Nelson is open for testing:

Monday and Thursday, as well as sometimes Wednesday depending on mobile testing hours
9:30-4:30, with a break for lunch from 12-1
Samples can be dropped off anytime.

ANKORS also has a mobile testing operation! Learn more about it here: Drug checking comes to Grand Forks, Castlegar, and Trail!

ANKORS Nelson – Drug Checking Report – Week of February 3, 2022

It was a busy week for drug checking at ANKORS in Nelson. They were in Grand Forks on Tuesday and in Trail on Wednesday for testing – the rest of the week was spent in Nelson. Overall, ANKORS tested 25 samples: nine samples in Grand Forks, six in Trail, and ten in Nelson. The substances were as follows: 12 down samples, seven MDMA samples, five methamphetamine samples, and one ketamine sample.

View full report here.

Drug checking comes to Grand Forks, Castlegar, and Trail!

Did you know that our friends at ANKORS have a mobile drug checking service that stops in Grand Forks, Castlegar and Trail? The current schedule is below.

Grand Forks – Every 1st & 3rd Tuesday at the Gospel Chapel

Castlegar – Every 2nd & 4th Tuesday at The Way Out shelter

Trail – Wednesdays – the third Wednesday of the month at the United Church (with the pop-up OPS) and the two Wednesdays before at the Community Inclusion Centre

Need more information? Call ANKORS at 236-972-7080 / 250-505-5506 or send them an email.

ANKORS Nelson – Drug Checking Report – Week of November 18, 2021

This week 8 samples were tested in Trail. The down samples were fairly typical for these days, with average fentanyl proportions. One sample that was of sold as ketamine was actually methamphetamine. The sample was sold and bought in Calgary, and therefore these results may not pose serious concern to people who are using drugs in the Kootenay/Boundary or Interior Health region. However, it serves as a reminder to have your drugs checked before using, start with a small amount, and use with a buddy or in an overdose prevention site/supervised consumption site.