Fentanyl was found in fake Xanax, a popular recreational drug of choice for many high school students, in a Delta high school last week. (File photo).

‘Trying drugs now is an enormous life-threatening gamble’: fentanyl expert

Fentanyl found in fake Xanax has parents and police on high alert

Xannies, Bars, Z-Bars, Zanbars, Xanbars, Handlebars, Planks, Bricks, Benzos.

These are all slang terms for anti-anxiety drug Xanax that doubles as a recreational drug of choice for many young high school students – one that authorities are encouraging parents talk to their kids about after fentanyl was found in counterfeit Xanax in a high school in B.C. last week.

Cheap to get and easy to take, the tranquilizer comes in legitimate versions – by prescription – and illicit versions from unregulated sources potentially cut with other substances. Both versions look identical to the untrained eye.

“We are in a terrible place right now where fentanyl has so saturated the drug market there really is no safe place to experiment. Trying drugs now is an enormous life-threatening gamble,” said fentanyl expert Staff Sgt. Conor King, VicPD.

The pills brought to the Delta school by a student last week were purchased illicitly as Xanax. The pills were confiscated, and found to contain fentanyl.

RELATED: Community response to the opioid crisis

This latest news presents a scary new twist in the opioid crisis.

“It should be assumed that all illicit drugs contain fentanyl, and therefore have the potential to be fatal,” Jen Hill, communications manager for the Delta School District, said in an email to Black Press Media.

After a Grade 10 Belmont student died of a suspected overdose in June, Black Press talked with four West Shore high school students about their drug use and what types of drugs they are seeing other students use.

One said teens can buy Xanax, or a knock-off of the drug, on the streets for $3, which he alluded to being cut with other unknown substances due to the price.

All four teens noted drugs are easily accessible and they would be able to get their hands on them if they wanted to.

Victoria police have seen a rise in consumption and overdoses related to Xanax in high school age youth in the last two a half years.

“A major concern is when it is mixed with alcohol. That’s when things can get bad rapidly,” said King. “Think of teenagers in the realm of a house party. Drug experimentation commonly goes hand-in-hand with alcohol use, but this can cause a magnification of affects and run risk of an overdose, shutting down their heart and lungs.”

RELATED: Drug Use: High school students comfortable talking about marijuana but not other drugs

In Oak Bay, the high school PAC struck a Health and Wellness Committee in December 2017, in response to reports from parents and administration concerning Grade 9 and 10 students overdosing on Xanax.

“The parents would be called to pick their child up from the hospital and they would hear from the emergency doctors things like ‘this is the tenth kid this week’,” Gabriela Hirt, co-chair of the Health and Wellness Committee, told Black Press in an interview earlier this year. “But it was really anecdotal. There were no statistics.”

So the committee was formed and research on best-policies was undertaken. The parents called on the school district and the B.C Government to make changes to drug-related policies and support in schools.

King recommends parents have frank conversations with their teenagers.

“Be willing to talk to your kids about what they see when they are out at parties, what they are interested in trying. Fentanyl is so toxic at such low doses that experimenting can be fatal,” King said. “I’ve had opportunity to talk to a lot of parents and teens and that message is really resonating with youth in high schools who are seeing that as a reality.

“There is a good number who refuse to experiment with something because it might cost them their lives.”

School District 62 published an information guide about Xanax in June, including signs and symptoms of overdose.

Overdose signs include extreme drowsiness, fainting or loss of consciousness, difficulty breathing, loss of coordination, and confusion.

If someone has signs and symptoms of acute toxicity they need urgent medical assistance.

RELATED: Fentanyl found at a Delta high school, district says

Resources

Sign up for Naloxone training at Toward the Heart: www.towardtheheart.com

Foundry Victoria provides a range of prevention and early-intervention health and social services to support young people’s well-being. Services are free and confidential for youth 12-24. 818 Douglas Street or foundrybc.ca/victoria/

Supportive Resources for Youth & Families on Vancouver Island: call 250‐519‐5313 or email discovery.southisland@viha.ca.

– with files from Grace Kennedy


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

opioid crisis

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Victoria Humane Society takes revenue hit after donation bins vandalized

Organization removes clothing donation bins after contents removed, scattered

Sooke, Sidney businesses win top awards during the BC Food and Beverage Awards

Sheringham Distillery won Gold Award for Product of Year while Cascadia Seaweed won Innovation Award

Lamborghini driver slapped with nearly $1,000 in fines while speeding in Central Saanich

Vehicle impounded by Central Saanich police, 11 points issued

West Shore RCMP arrives just in time thanks to tip

Officers remind of resources after mental health call Monday morning

Proposed Sidney cannabis store wins favour with public, businesses

Of 348 received submissions, 311 favour cannabis store proposed for 2400-block of Beacon Avenue

Weekend sees 267 cases, 3 deaths in B.C.; Dr. Henry says events leading to COVID spread

There are currently 1,302 active cases in B.C., while 3,372 people are under public health monitoring

Lightning strike: Tampa Bay blanks Dallas 2-0 to win Stanley Cup

Hedman wins Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP

16 MLAs retiring from B.C. politics add up to $20M in pensions: Taxpayers Federation

Taxpayers pay $4 for every dollar MLAs contribute to their pensions

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Shawnigan Lake’s Kubica gets 25 to life for murder in California

Former Shawnigan Lake man convicted of killing woman in 1990

Police seek help in naming Cowichan farm stand theft suspect

Video captured man prying cash box out of stand on Norcross Road

Pedestrian dies in motor vehicle incident along the highway near Nanaimo Airport

Police investigating scene where 37-year-old woman from Nanaimo died

She warned her son about toxic drugs, then he was dead

Donna Bridgman’s son died at the age of 38 in Vancouver

Most Read