EDMONTON — In hopes of getting ahead of the trend and keeping a deadly drug out of its schools, the Edmonton Catholic School Board held a meeting Tuesday night to discuss the dangers of fentanyl.
Parents and students were invited to the public education session; they heard from medical experts and members of law enforcement about the potentially deadly consequences of taking fentanyl.
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“Statistics show that we need to become more aware of it and educate our families, and our parents and our kids just so they don’t fall victim to it,” Staff Sgt. Shane Perka with Alberta Law Enforcement Response Teams said.
While Perka is not aware of any deaths or overdoses in Alberta schools, fentanyl was responsible for 145 deaths in the province in the first seven months of 2015.
About 100 times more potent than morphine and 20 times more powerful than OxyContin, fentanyl is a synthetic opiate narcotic primarily prescribed to those with chronic pain. It’s known on the street as green beans, green jellies or street Oxy, and can often show up in other drugs.
“On the street we’re seeing it predominantly in counterfeit pills or pills that are made to resemble prescription pills,” Perka explained.
READ MORE: 145 fentanyl-related deaths in Alberta so far in 2015
Allan Danroth, who has a 14-year-old daughter and an 11-year-old son, said it was important to bring his kids to the session.
“They’re getting to that age where they’re getting exposed to different things and we want to make sure they understand what’s out there and the dangers associated with things like fentanyl,” he said.
“It’s there and you just never know when they’re going to get to some party or some situation after school.”
Karbovanec, who has a 16-year-old son, said it’s equally as important for parents to be informed.
“To help him be aware that it’s not always what it seems. Be careful who you trust,” she said. “It’s a very dangerous drug.”
READ MORE: Street drug fentanyl killing more Albertans
ECSB Chair Marilyn Bergstra started the conversation. Bergstra said she’s more concerned about fentanyl than any other drug.
“There’s so many avenues in which you can ingest it,” she said. “I’m concerned that people will ingest the drug unknowingly. My understanding is somewhere in B.C. it’s already been put in candy form. So it’s important that we understand what we’re dealing with.
“Kids need to understand this is a deadly drug.”
In November, a fentanyl warning advertisement will play during previews at Edmonton Cineplex movie theatres. It’s a joint initiative by the school board and city police.
With files from Jessica Kent, Global News.