Using substances can:
- Make it hard to control your actions
- Affect your health and development
- Change how you make decisions, how you think and how quickly you can react
For some people, alcohol or other drug use may turn into a substance use problem.
Anyone can overdose. People of all ages and backgrounds are being affected by an increase of illegal drug overdoses. Serious harm or death is a real possibility every time someone uses illegal drugs.
Overdoses are often linked with fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that can be fatal. Fentanyl has been found in cocaine, crack, MDMA (ecstasy), crystal meth, heroin, fake oxy, and fake Percocet.
It is now legal for anyone over the age of 19 to possess, buy or use cannabis (marijuana or weed). It's still illegal for anyone under 19 in B.C. to possess, buy or use it. This includes using cannabis on school property or anywhere else.
Know the risks and signs of overdose
Learn how to respond and where to get naloxone.
If you have a non-emergency health concern
Call 811 to speak with a nurse any time of the day or night.
If you or a friend needs help dealing with a problem
Reach out to an adult and get help.
If you're a parent, teacher or another supportive adult
Talk with young people about using substances. Be a sensitive and respectful listener. Don't be judgmental. Talk openly and honestly about the effects of substances. Ask questions about what kids are hearing, seeing or have learned. Talk about why people use substances and the potential consequences. Create an open and relaxed environment where it's safe to ask questions. Look for natural opportunities to discuss the topic.
- Fraser Health: Start the conversation about overdose prevention
- Cannabis Talk Kit: Know How to Talk With Your Teen (PDF)
- Health Link BC: Talking to Kids, Teens and Adult Children
- Healthy Families BC: Tricky Conversations
Educate yourself. Learn about substances commonly used. Find out how they work, what their street names are, and the signs of being under the influence. Be prepared to provide answers in a way that that's easy to understand. If you don’t know the answer, offer to find it together.
Stick to the facts. Explain how lethal fentanyl can be and that it's difficult to know which drugs contain it. Avoid preaching, scare tactics and exaggeration – this approach doesn't work. Make heartfelt expressions of concern for safety, health and wellness.
Recognizing the risks and signs of an overdose and knowing how to respond can save lives. Learn how and when to use naloxone, receive tips on talking honestly and openly with loved ones, and find supervised consumption and overdose prevention services in your community.
- Fraser Health: Overdose resources for schools and parents
- Healthy Families BC: Alcohol Sense Videos
- Healthy Families BC: Teen Behaviour
- Health Link BC: Alcohol and Drug Use in Young People
- Here to Help: Parent Guide for Talking to Teens About Substances
- Here to Help: You and Substance Use (PDF, 3.8MB)
- SACY: Fentanyl Awareness Discussion Guide
- SACY: Fentanyl Awareness Short Quiz
Thank you to Vancouver School Board’s Supporting And Connecting Youth (SACY) - Substance Use Health Promotion Initiative and Vancouver Coastal Health for sharing this resource.
- Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research: Helping Schools
- Instructional Sample: Rat Park (PDF)