Ten Dollar Death Trip: A Deep-Dive Into Canada’s Opioid Crisis

opioid addiction white tablets from a bottle

You may have heard about the recent Netflix show ‘Ten Dollar Death Trip,’ a movie that explores the lethal opioid crisis in North America.

Many might be surprised to learn the severity of the opioid crisis, particularly in countries such as Canada – a shocking statistic from the show revealed that opioid fentanyl, a synthetic drug, is killing more people on the streets than car accidents or gun crime.

What are opioid drugs, and why are they so dangerous?

A national summary analysed opioid-related deaths in Canada specifically, including risk factors and dangers related to opioid drug abuse.

The researchers found that opioid drug abuse affects all regions of the country, although some places are more impacted than others.


The researchers noted that more men than women (mainly between 30 and 39) are at higher risk of losing their lives due to opioid abuse. The study also found that opioid-related deaths and hospital admission rates were highest in specific provinces, including Alberta, British Columbia, and the Northwest Territories.

Canada is a beautiful country known for its rich history and love of ice hockey, maple syrup, and politeness. But a darker truth surrounds the majestic beauty of this country.

It may be a massive shock for many to learn about the deadly opioid crisis in Canada today.

Additional statistics on the dangers of opioid drug abuse in Canada

Drug Addiction center - CFHH

According to the study, the opioid crisis has disastrously impacted Canadian citizens’ health and overall lives.

For instance, there were approximately 2861 opioid-related deaths in 2016 alone, and 16 opioid-related hospital admissions daily (National Library of Medicine, Evidence synthesis – The opioid crisis in Canada: a national perspective, Belzak Lisa, MHSc, and Halvorson Jessica, MPH, MSW, June 2018).

However, opioids are not the only substance being abused in some Canadian communities.

The summary further revealed that at least 82% of opioid-related deaths involved more than one substance; this data was analysed between January 2016 and June 2017 (National Library of Medicine, Evidence synthesis – The opioid crisis in Canada: a national perspective, Belzak Lisa, MHSc, and Halvorson Jessica, MPH, MSW, June 2018).

Opioid abuse is a growing pandemic. 

Worryingly, the opioid crisis in Canada doesn’t seem to be getting any better. On the contrary, the literature suggests that opioid drug abuse is growing increasingly out of control, where both illegal and prescription opioids are being abused regularly.

Fentanyl and analogues seem to be responsible for the rise in opioid-related deaths (National Library of Medicine, Evidence synthesis – The opioid crisis in Canada: a national perspective, Belzak Lisa, MHSc, and Halvorson Jessica, MPH, MSW, June 2018).

Ten Dollar Death Trip – a deep- dive into Canada’s opioid crisis

Netflixs’ ‘’Ten Dollar Death Trip’’ follows the lives of a group of Canadian citizens living on the streets – it’s a story of a crisis that started as an epidemic that quickly became a pandemic, one that lives on today.

An interviewee on the show spoke candidly about fentanyl’s potency and addictive qualities, saying that “fentanyl is fifty times stronger than heroin, deadly opioid fentanyl is cheap, potent, and small enough to post from China via the dark web.”

Ten Dollar Death Trip explores the opioid crisis in Vancouver, Canada, known as “the epicentre of the epidemic,” with interviews from dealers, healthcare workers, activists, and users of the drug.

There’s absolute despair and sadness among opioid users and profound resignation among those who sell the drug on the streets.

Why are opioids so addictive?

Opioids are drugs derived from organic substances found in opium poppy plants. They can be prescribed as a prescription pain medication or used illegally (illegal drugs).

Many people abuse opioids to experience a deep euphoria due to the “high” that opioids can produce. However, for many, the cost of taking opioids usually results in addiction, medically called opioid use disorder (OUD).

How do opioids work?

Opioids are painkillers that activate a region of nerve cells in your brain called opioid receptors, which block pain signals between the brain and body.

How do opioids make you feel?

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Users experience various feelings and sensations when they take opioids, but typically, users of the drug are likely to experience the following:

  • Nausea
  • Slow breathing
  • Drowsiness
  • Euphoria
  • Stomach issues such as constipation

What other terms are used to describe opioids?

You may come across different terms to describe the drug, such as painkillers, opiates, or narcotics; however, the proper word to describe the drug is opioids.

What are the risks associated with taking opioids?

Individuals who abuse opioids are likely to become physically dependent on the drug. In addition, over time, users may develop a tolerance to opioids, meaning they need more of the substance to experience its effects or to feel normal.

Other risks associated with opioid use include addiction (known as opioid use disorder), overdose, and death.


A 2000 study showed that approximately 75% of US citizens addicted to street opioids such as heroin started out taking prescription opioid drugs (John Hopkins Medicine, Opioids).

Moreover, an individual with an opioid use disorder is more prone to financial difficulties due to the high cost of drug-taking; they may steal cash or belongings from friends and family or steal other peoples’ prescription opioid medicines.

Opioid use disorder can be fatal, posing a genuine threat to life for many users; the disease usually worsens over time and is responsible for countless drug overdose deaths in America.

Opioid crisis 


Ten Dollar Death Trip illustrates North America’s severe public health crisis, described as a “deadly pandemic” the opioid crisis rages on throughout countries like Canada today.

The show explores how opioids have replaced drugs like heroin within many market forces leading to death, destruction, and despair.

Unfortunately, due to their high strength and low cost, opioids are starting to become popular in the party scene. Studies show that opioids are often mixed with other drugs, such as cannabis and cocaine, producing deadly results for users.

Additionally, the Netflix show highlighted how opioids affect the homeless and already marginalised communities.

Show highlights

The show illustrates the everyday use of Narcan (Naloxone), a drug used to reverse the effects of an overdose.

Healthcare workers and those attempting to prevent opioid overdose on the streets carry Narcan with them on patrol; however, Narcan’s effects are temporary, and thus someone experiencing an overdose needs urgent medical help immediately.

The above measures highlight the prevalence of opioid drug abuse (and the likelihood of opioid overdose) in Vancouver, Canada, alone.

People are dying on the streets daily due to opioid drug abuse, some can be saved on time, but unfortunately, many aren’t.

Ten Dollar Death Trip primarily explores the fentanyl crisis in North America. It provides a no-holds-barred insight into how cheap fentanyl is (hence the movie title) and how the opioid crisis continues ravaging homeless and marginalised communities.

Opioid addiction can affect anyone.

Opioid use disorder does not just affect homeless and marginalised communities.

For example, studies show that opioid use disorder affects over 16 million people worldwide; over 2.1 million of the sample are US citizens, resulting in 120,000 opioid-related deaths globally.

The research literature reports that there are as many people using opioids as there are patients diagnosed with conditions such as obsessive-compulsive disorder, epilepsy, and psoriatic arthritis.

Key takeaways

A key takeaway from the show (and the literature) is that although the opioid epidemic is a worldwide issue, there are several “hot spots” where the problem is most prevalent.

For example, research shows that white males in their late twenties and early thirties are more likely to develop an opioid use disorder.

Additionally, the researchers noted that mental distress increased users’ risk of dying from an opioid overdose (by approximately 39%). 

In America, opioid-related deaths are more prevalent in some states than others. 

They include:

  • Kentucky
  • Pennsylvania
  • Indiana
  • Tennessee
  • Ohio
  • West Virginia

Is it possible to improve the opioid crisis?

how to help a loved one with substance abuse

According to the literature, it may be challenging to improve the opioid crisis since the epidemic is more complex than anyone could imagine; various agents and other factors that fuel opioid abuse are constantly evolving.

Researchers explain that focusing on why specific locations are hit so hard by the crisis, and taking a more complex look at the different sub-groups affected, may make it possible to get a better handle on the opioid drug problem in various countries and locations.

Crucial measures such as quality rehabilitation, access to healthcare, and social determinants in specific areas may help improve the opioid crisis (Study Identifies Who Is Most at-risk For Opioid Abuse, Verywell Health, Sofia Quaglia, June 8, 2021).

Centres for Health and Healing

We specialise in treating various addictions (including opioid addiction) and concurrent disorders at Centres for Health and Healing.

If you are struggling with opioid addiction and need help and support, we are always around to lend a listening, compassionate ear.

We understand how much stigma there is around addiction. So our specialists are trauma-informed to help you feel less alone and isolated, which is often part of an addiction (no matter what form addictive behaviour takes).

Reaching out for support may be challenging, but by doing so, you will have already taken the first step to a healthier, more fulfilling life. Contact our friendly team today.

Additional resources

  1. National Library of Medicine, Evidence synthesis – The opioid crisis in Canada: a national perspective, Belzak Lisa, MHSc, and Halvorson Jessica, MPH, MSW, June 2018).
  2. Study Identifies Who Is Most at-risk For Opioid Abuse, Verywell Health, Sofia Quaglia, June 8, 2021
  3. Ten Dollar Death Trip
Lisa Davies - Program Director of Vaughan Recovery and Kirby Estate

About Lisa Davies

Lisa is the Program Director at Centres for Health and Healing. She lived for most of her life in the Durham region, before moving to Peel five years ago.

Lisa is a Master Hypnotist and is certified in Hypnotherapy (2008), Self-Hypnosis and in 5-phase Advanced Therapeutic Healing. As a Member of National Guild of Hypnotists, she is also specialized in hypnosis training in pediatrics, pain management, neuro-linguistic and stage programming.

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