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You may have heard about the dangerous drug called fentanyl that’s causing harm across the country.

It’s an opioid that was traditionally prescribed by health professionals but is now being made and sold illegally. Fentanyl is a very toxic drug, which with even just a small amount (the size of two grains of salt) can be deadly.

With school starting, Andy Bhatti, Professional Canadian Drug and Alcohol Interventionist, says it’s important to know the risks and signs of drug use.

“It’s important to talk to your kids and know these signs of drug use. This will help you can tell if your child is using drugs. If these signs are visible at your home, you might need an interventionist like me.”

Talk to your kids

First things first, you need to talk to your kids about the risks of drugs. Kids and young adults are especially vulnerable to substances since their brains are still being developed. Sit down with your children and talk about fentanyl and other dangerous drugs.

photo showing teen drug addiction

While sharing statistics aren’t the most effective way of encouraging your children to not use drugs, they’re important to know. Before talking to your child, prepare yourself with the facts. Here are some useful statistics you should know.

  • Fentanyl is a very dangerous drug that’s being seen more and more in Alberta
  • In the second quarter of 2017, 119 have died from an apparent drug overdose related to fentanyl. In the same quarter last year, 85 deaths happened
  • 272 people in Alberta died from Fentanyl in 2015
  • Drug dealers may not know the product they’re selling contains fentanyl
  • If you take fentanyl, it can stop your breathing
  • From January to July (this year), 706 of the 876 suspected drug deaths had fentanyl detected
  • In most cases, fentanyl is combined with other drugs like cocaine, heroin or methamphetamine.
  • There were 91 drug overdose deaths in July this year in British Columbia

This is a way to open up a conversation with your children. If they happen to try drugs or become addicted they hopefully will feel more comfortable talking to you about it. This conversation shouldn’t be an interrogation, it should remain educational.

What’s Health Canada Saying?

Dr. Supriya Sharma, Health Canada’s chief medical adviser told CBC News recently that Health Canada is urging students to open their eyes to the dangers of drugs and alcohol.

“What is different in these last few years, and especially in this last year, is that we’re really facing a public health crisis with respect to drug use and opioids and overdoses.”

Sharma says students should be aware of the risk of contamination if they decide to break sobriety and take illegal drugs.

“We are seeing a lot of products that are on the street contaminated with products like fentanyl or other products that are really, very powerful.”

What are educators saying?

Art Steinmann, manager of substance use health promotion for Vancouver Board of Education, told CBC News that the provincial drug abuse curriculum is changing to reflect the new crisis.

The B.C. Coroners Service says that 136 people died from overdoses this April. That’s the second-highest number of overdoses fatalities ever recorded in B.C. for one month.

Steinmann says they’re helping youth avoid the risks associated with drug use.

“We certainly can never completely control the supply side, but there’s a lot we can do to impact the demand side — in other words, the likelihood that young people will get involved.”

What can parents do?

As parents, you are an important influence on your children. Although there’s no way to guarantee that your child won’t do drugs, there are some things you can do that are known to be helpful.

  • Spend quality time with your kids and be involved in their lives
  • Encourage your children to make school and education a priority. Support them with schoolwork, sports and different activities.
  • Help kids understand the risks and consequences of using drugs
  • Open up a conversation and tell them that they can speak to you about drugs and alcohol

How can you tell if your child is using?

As a parent, it’s vital that you watch for the common signs of drug use in your kids. Through Andy’s experience working with young addicts, here’s how to tell if your child is using drugs.

Possession of drugs is a dead give away. If you find any type of drug in your home or any drug paraphernalia in your child’s bedroom, it’s time to have a talk with them. They may say it’s not theirs or that they’re holding it for a friend. It’s your job to tell if they’re telling the truth or keeping something from you.

Other signs include:

  • Your child is skipping school
  • School grades are dropping
  • Numerous friends of theirs are using drugs
  • A shift in friend groups
  • No motivation for sports or activities
  • Guardedness or deceptiveness in sharing about themselves
  • Emotional volatility and irritability

What do you do when you suspect your child is using drugs?

If any of these signs are present in your child you may think that your child is using drugs.

Firstly, you’re going to want to process your concerns and develop an action plan to talk to your child. Talk through this topic with your spouse, family members, guidance counselors or close friends before bringing it up to your child. Prepare yourself for the talk with your child.

Secondly, ask them. Tell them that you’ve been concerned about them because of their behaviour change. Regardless if they open up about using drugs or say they’re not using, this is a starting point for a conversation.

Thirdly, you both need to get help. If your child is using drugs, they’re going to need help and an interventionist like Andy Bhatti is the right place to start. Andy provides addiction counseling and interventions when someone cannot stop an addiction by themselves. He also provides family counseling since addiction is rarely only felt by one person.

Andy is available for interventions in Calgary and Vancouver, as well as across the entire provinces of Alberta and British Columbia.

If you know your child is using and you want to set up an intervention with Andy, contact him today.