BY MELISSA HORTON
The growing use of fentanyl has become a crisis in many areas including Kitchener. Politicians are grappling with how to deal with the issue, including proposals for safe injection sites in the hopes of keeping drugs off the streets. Residents have organized events to rid their neighbourhoods of needles and first responders have armed themselves with naloxone kits in hopes of reducing the number of overdose deaths.
Homeless people get most of the blame for the rise in drug use, but after the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health’s 2017 survey, which looked at Ontario students’ drug use and health, some parents’ worst nightmares have come true.
According to the survey, around one per cent of students in grades 9-12 have taken fentanyl.
Despite drugs like marijuana dropping nine per cent and alcohol usage dropping 23 per cent, parents are concerned about fentanyl, specifically in terms of schools being prepared.
The Waterloo Region District School Board has been considering putting naloxone kits in schools in order to be prepared for the growing opioid crisis. In an interview with CBC, Nick Manning, chief communications officer for the school board, said, “We’re in a position now where we want to receive some guidance from the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Health on how we should be handling this.”
Naloxone kits may be the new norm, including at colleges and universities.
Conestoga College will have a naloxone kit on site in as early as four weeks.
Kirsty Bradley-McMurtrie, director of Security Services, said it will be kept at Health Services and any security staff hired by the college will be trained on how to use it. She added that if any issue were to arise, response times for paramedics and firefighters are under four minutes to the Doon campus and if any student was in need of immediate care, Waterloo Region first responders are located at the emergency medical services station on campus.
Although, the use of fentanyl by students is very low, the increased use of fentanyl is concerning.
For now all school officials can do is put preventative measures in place and inform youth about the dangers of fentanyl. This is exactly what the region and Conestoga are doing and hopefully this will result in fewer overdoses and deaths. As the saying goes: better safe than sorry.