Schools are taking on the fentanyl crisis but drug curriculum a patchwork

By the age of 19, Jordan Miller was already addicted to drugs and reaching out to his parents for help. By 24, he’d taken a deadly cocktail of oxycodone pills — enough to stop his heart.

His mother, Leslie McBain, has told the heartbreaking story of her son’s overdose at every high school in British Columbia’s Gulf Islands region over the past two years.

“My message is one of safety. If you decide to do this, here’s how to stay safe,” she said.

It’s a refrain she repeats to students over and over again: never use alone, always carry naloxone, watch out for your friends at parties and know how to recognize an overdose.

‘More we need to do’: Overdose deaths in Vancouver surpass last year’s total
Drug education in B.C. schools changing to reflect overdose crisis
As the spread of opioid-related overdose deaths in Canada continues to move east, more and more kids will likely hear warnings like McBain’s when they head back to school this fall.

But while a front line in the fight against the overdose crisis has opened up in Canadian classrooms, where students go to school seems to affect how they learn about the risks associated with contaminated substances.

Western schools lead country
Predictably, Canada’s westernmost provinces and territories — those hardest hit in Canadian authorities’ battle against fentanyl — have been active in updating their school programming to reflect the continuing crisis.

British Columbia’s Ministry of Education has added modules on overdosing to its Grade 6 and high school curriculum, and several larger B.C. school districts have programs dedicated to teaching kids about the risks associated with drug contaminants.

Meanwhile, inquiries to provincial and territorial health and education ministries found that Yukon is the only province or territory in Canada to have trained all its school administrators in how to use naloxone and to stock every school with a naloxone kit.

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