Teen’s overdose a wake-up call
Health officer argues ‘say no’ initiatives can be harmful
A 16-year-old’s overdose death in New Westminster — caused by a substance she thought was the party drug MDMA, police said — continues to rock Power Alternate Secondary School.
It’s a tight-knit school with just 66 students. On Tuesday, counsellors and psychologists remained on-site to help students and faculty cope with the “heartfelt sorrow,” according to Supt. Pat Duncan.
While much of the discussion around the larger overdose crisis has focused on entrenched addiction and high-use neighbourhoods, recreational users have been hit hard, too.
According to Dr. Mark Lysyshyn, a medical health officer with Vancouver Coastal Health, messages like “Say no to drugs” are completely ineffective — and even worsen teen drug abuse.
“Specifically when you make kids promise not to use drugs, you’ve made it so they can’t come to you for help,” said Lysyshyn.
Several schools in Vancouver, he said, are starting to carry naloxone
of just 66 students.
overdose-reversal kits. But the problem is most youth are using drugs off school grounds.
Leslie McBain has spoken in high schools about her family’s experience; her son Jordan died in 2014 from fentanyl.
“I don’t believe that harm reduction will get more drugs to kids,” McBain said in an earlier interview. “People at risk of addiction and death will have the support they need to stay alive.”
Power Alternate Secondary School