For Schools and Parents
Between January and December 2016, there were 922 illicit drug overdose deaths in B.C.. Twelve of these deaths occurred in individuals aged 10-19. In April, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Perry Kendall declared a public health emergency.
Overdoses are increasingly linked with fentanyl, a synthetic opioid 50 to 100 times more toxic than morphine. As little as a few grains worth is enough to cause overdose or death. All sectors of society have been affected: from people (including youth) who use daily to those casually experimenting.
A 2013 BC Adolescent Health Survey of 30,000 youth found a correlation between a decrease in substance use among youth and the existence of supportive relationships with adults (e.g. teachers, family members and other professionals). Schools can and do contribute to essential protective factors for substance misuse that can lead to overdose events.
Fraser Health is implementing a comprehensive opioid overdose strategy to help keep our communities safe. As youth in our region head back to class, we want to ensure that school administrators and educators have the factual information they need to answer questions from youth about fentanyl and the opioid overdose crisis.
Overdoses don't discriminate
With an issue this critical, it’s important that youth not rely on inaccurate information they may hear in the media or by word-of-mouth. It is also crucial they understand that overdoses do not discriminate and that right now, with tainted drugs circulating, is not the time to experiment. Because whether they are experimenting for the first time or regularly using illicit drugs, serious harm or death is a very real possibility every time.
More youth are coming into schools with their own personal experiences of using drugs and/or of parents, siblings and friends who have used or are using drugs. As this topic can be traumatizing for some, we hope this kit can help you engage with youth in an informed and sensitive way.
We encourage you to share these resources with school officials, administrators, teachers, youth, and in your social media and school communications. Download a PDF copy of our stop drug overdose information kit for schools and parents.
Thank you for helping keep our youth and communities safe from overdoses.