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It might be tough to be a teen today, but it’s also hard being a parent. Especially when you consider how much scarier the world can be now than back in the day. Today we don’t just have to worry about street drugs, sex and booze, we also have to worry about cyber bullying, sexting and the latest health concern, prescription drugs.

While most of us have probably had the chat with our teens about the dangers of things like OxyContin, there’s a new player in town and it’s probably the scariest yet. Fentanyl is the latest opioid that’s being prescribed for chronic pain, but it’s quickly being broken down and used in combination with other drugs, often rendering it unrecognizable. And the death toll in Canada is rising as a result.

From 2009 to 2014, there have been roughly 655 deaths blamed on the use of Fentanyl — and that’s just the reported cases. The drug is said to be 40 times more potent than heroin and 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine. Those are terrifying stats when you consider that it’s now being mixed into heroin and other drugs; users don’t always know they’re using it.

Since 2013, more than 500 people have died in B.C. and Alberta from taking drugs laced with fentanyl. That number includes a spike in the last year alone. And according to the Canadian Press, Vancouver police were recently called to 16 fentanyl-related overdoses in one single day.

So how are people getting their hands on it? The drug is usually prescribed in the form of a slow-release patch, the gel from which can be extracted and turned into powder. Imitation OxyContin pills containing the drug have already started popping up in Toronto, the latest Canadian city to report usage spikes. But it’s also being smoked, ingested and dissolved under the tongue in order to get that high. In some cases, some users are soaking pieces of that gel patch in alcohol, infusing it with herbs and then smoking it.

fen_crystals

The bottom line? Even if you’ve had that “don’t do drugs” talk with your kids, now might be a good time to educate them about the affects of Fentanyl, and the fact that even one single patch could be lethal.

“If someone is knowingly buying fentanyl or wants to try fentanyl for the first time, thinking this is the greatest new drug out there, my message is: don’t do it,” Insp. Howie Page of the Toronto drug squad said in a recent news conference. “This is a dangerous drug.”

Not sure how to talk to your teen in an impactful way? Here are some tips from the Canadian government on broaching the conversation.

  • Stay focused and don’t get too emotional, but above all keep an open mind.
  • Talk to your teen every day and ask them how they’re doing in order to keep an open dialogue.
  • Work with your teen to set boundaries and make it clear that there are consequences to certain actions.
  • Mini-conversations are better than long-and-boring lectures. Eat dinner together and discuss the latest news in the paper, and be sure to take advantage of “teachable moments.”
  • While you’re talking, remember that it’s equally important to listen.
  • Don’t criticize and remain positive and upbeat.
  • Use messages about how drug use can affect athletic performance, health and appearance.
  • Give meaningful and balanced information so that they don’t feel judged, and start as early as possible.