The Delta School District has sent an urgent warning message to parents after drugs brought to school by a student tested positive for fentanyl.
According to the letter sent to students’ parents, the pills were labeled as Xanax, a medication commonly prescribed for anxiety, and were bought illicitly. However, testing revealed that the pills were fake and contained fentanyl.
According to the notice, Delta police have launched an investigation, and are working together with Delta School District. Moreover, the notice urges parents to talk to their children about the life-threatening risks associated with illicit drug use, and asks them and students to report any suspicious activity in their neighbourhood or at school. Parents and students are also asked to contact police about any information related to trafficking of illicit drugs.
In an interview with CBC News, Delta School District spokesperson Jen Hill said : “We are in a new era of understanding when it comes to students and youth taking drugs.” In addition, she mentioned that the school district will be sending nasal Narcan kits to all secondary schools next week, in order to make this antidote available to staff to be used on students in cases of overdose. The district has already provided parent information sessions on vaping and cannabis edibles over the past few weeks.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is significantly more potent than morphine and heroin, and is currently used in the healthcare setting as pain medication, alone and in combination with other medications for managing both acute and chronic pain. In the recent years, both pharmacological and illicitly produced fentanyl have been subject to abuse. Illicitly-produced fentanyl may be sold as pills or powder, or it may be mixed with other drugs, such as heroin, oxycodone, Xanax, and cocaine.
Illicit fentanyl abuse represents a great health risk to people who use drugs, and this has been most apparent in BC. Since fentanyl is 50-80 times more potent than morphine, and is present in highly variable doses in illicit substances, the risk of overdose is very high, especially in individuals who are opioid-naive. Canada has been facing a 5-year opioid crisis, with a dramatic increase in overdoses in which fentanyl was detected, and British Columbia having the most severe issues.
Last month, Vancouver Coastal Health issued a text alert to drug users and health-care staff about fake Xanax being tested positive for fentanyl at the city’s supervised injection site, Insite. According to the health authority fake Xanax tablets had been detected before in the illicit drug market in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. You can read more about the BC opioid crisis here.