Pubdate: Fri, 23 Jun 2017
Source: Province, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2017 Postmedia Network Inc.
Author: Gordon Clark
Page: 18


I t was terrific to see leaders from Surrey RCMP and the Surrey School
District offer parents such common-sense advice this week about the
drug crisis afflicting our communities.

School Superintendent Jordan Tinney and Assistant Commissioner Dwayne
McDonald urged parents to talk to their kids about the extremely high
level of risk posed by street drugs these days and not to assume that
their little darlings aren't experimenting with them.

The warning came a few days after Provincial Health Officer Dr. Perry
Kendall made a similar plea, noting that 19 B.C. teenagers have died
of overdoses since January 2016 and concerned that teenage drug use
may rise soon with year-end parties and summer concerts.

"Overdose deaths can easily happen to first-time users or those
experimenting with drugs," Tinney and McDonald said in a letter to
parents. "Despite our best efforts as parents, our children can easily
be at-risk of drug use."

The problem is that fentanyl and other easily deadly opioids are being
mixed into other drugs, often the so-called party drugs like ecstasy
that kids might take, thinking they are relatively safe. They can, and
do, suddenly find themselves sliding unexpectedly into unconsciousness
and, shortly thereafter, death.

The Surrey officials said that 54 per cent of B.C. overdose deaths
happened in homes and that it's "not a problem isolated to
homelessness or drug addicts," as my colleague Stephanie Ip reported.
They noted that fentanyl, which can be 100 times stronger than
morphine - meaning that a remarkably tiny amount can kill you - has
been found in heroin, powder and crack cocaine, methamphetamine and in
fake Oxycodone and Percocet.

Other health officials have previously noted that fentanyl has been
discovered in party drugs like ecstasy, cocaine, speed - and even in
marijuana, which is pretty scary given how commonly that drug is used
by teenagers and others.

Drug experts mock former U.S. First Lady Nancy Reagan's old "Just Say
No" approach to drugs, saying that message doesn't work with kids and
that talking about the relative risk of different drugs is more effective.

The latter is the approach my wife and I - then a criminal lawyer and
police reporter - took years ago with our sons when they were young.
If we happened to be in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, we'd point out
where the bad decisions of drug use could take one in life and
routinely explained that different drugs are not equally dangerous.
We'd note that a few puffs on a joint wouldn't likely hurt you but
your first experience with cocaine or heroin could kill you, and that
crystal meth could permanently turn your brain into cheese.

But I'm leaning more toward Reagan's views these days, especially in
light of the opioid epidemic that is expected to kill more than 1,400
British Columbians this year - well over the 935 overdose deaths in

It's not considered popular or perhaps cool to say it, I suppose, and
liberal governments seem hell bent on making drug use easier to obtain
and use these days, but no one should be wasting their lives on drugs.
Even if they don't kill you, what a terrible waste of one's potential
and precious single chance at existence.

Even marijuana isn't a great choice, spiked with fentanyl or not. The
American College of Pediatricians reported in April that about 17 per
cent of those who use marijuana during adolescence and 25 to 50 per
cent of daily users become addicted. The drug's impact on developing
brains, including causing psychosis and being linked to schizophrenia,
has been widely reported.

While smoking pot may not harm some or even most kids, it can be very
bad for a large minority of them. The trouble is we don't know which
kid will be harmed. Those who downplay that risk may as well encourage
kids to play Russian Roulette, arguing that five times out of six it's
a really fun, thrilling experience.

A study published earlier this month in the Journal of Epidemiology
and Community Health by British researchers found that teenagers who
regularly smoke pot are 26 times more likely to use other drugs by the
age of 21. In other words, marijuana is a gateway to more serious drug
use, despite what Health Canada claims on its website.

So I agree with Tinney, McDonald and Kendall. If you love your kids,
warn them about drugs.
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