Don’t let the druggie man get you
By Andrea Arscott, Senior Columnist
The authorities have bombarded us with messages that marijuana is the gateway to more illicit drugs. You might tell yourself that once you’re inside the gate, you can still get out, but there’s no guarantee you’ll still have the power to control yourself—the key to get back out when you’ve had enough. If you’re a recreational user, you cannot predict whether or not you’ll delve deeper into drugs or be able to quit. Many users can’t stop the monster inside them from fulfilling its cravings for drugs, and you might not even become addicted by choice.
Grab a tube of lipstick, and get your party boots on: there’s a rager at UBC that you’re going to crash with a new guy.
Dallas pulls up in a dilapidated pick-up truck and, like a cat chasing a fuzzy ball, you run outside. You swipe the litter off the front seat before climbing in. He passes you a joint and says, “Want a hoot?” You put aside your fear of herpes and take a toke. With that, the danger begins.
By the time you arrive at the frat house, you’re totally stoned. Laughing all the way to the door, you get out the vanilla vodka and SunnyD. All it takes is three drinks and you’re hammered. Feeling like you’re going to puke, you take over a bathroom and lie down on the floor next to the toilet.
Dallas comes knocking, and you let him in. He says, “Snort this line, you’ll feel better.” You can’t think properly, and you want the feeling to go away, so you do it. Little do you know that what you just snorted wasn’t cocaine. See, Dallas isn’t even a student: he’s a dealer who preys on young girls to get them hooked on drugs so he can make money, and he just gave you heroin. But guess what? His supplier sold him fentanyl, claiming it was heroin. Fentanyl is 100 times stronger than morphine, and according to Fraser Health, people can die the first time they use it—unfortunately, that could be you.
Fraser Health announced that fentanyl sold as heroin was the cause of 31 non-fatal overdoses at Insite over Thanksgiving weekend. It also states in their warning that “the drug analysis report samples contained fentanyl and caffeine (no heroin).” In powder form, fentanyl is very white—heroin isn’t.
Back on the bathroom floor, Dallas recognizes signs of an overdose. He notices you’re experiencing extreme sleepiness, trouble breathing, slow shallow breathing, and cold and clammy skin. He tries to pinch you and see if you respond to pain stimulus, but gets no reaction. Luckily, Dallas has taken naloxone training and carries a naloxone kit. He follows Fraser Health’s “SAVE ME” instructions for an opioid overdose.
S – STIMULATE: firm fist rub into the sternum. If there’s no response, call 911
A – AIRWAY: clear airway
V – VENTILATE: give a breath every five seconds
E – EVALUATE: any change?
If you have naloxone (Narcan) available through BC Take Home Naloxone Program:
M – MUSCULAR INJECTION of Naloxone
E – EVALUATE: any change?
After calling 911 and administering the naloxone, Dallas is able to revive you. The paramedics take you to hospital to be monitored, as overdoses can come back hours later. You’ve been given a second chance, so lose Dallas’ number and be aware of the latest in drug news. Dallas didn’t succeed at getting you addicted to heroin, but he’s been successful before.
People who struggle with addiction are often consumed with getting their next hit, and it doesn’t matter how they get it. If they have to share a dirty needle to get high, they will. HIV and hepatitis B and C are transmitted through sharing needles and other equipment for injection use. The Working Group on Best Practice for Harm Reduction Programs in Canada has determined that HIV, HBV, and HCV antibodies are being found more often in cookers, mixes and/or waters, and filters used to inject drugs. The group recommends single-use needles and single-use “works” to get high (ties included).
Stop HIV, HBV, and HCV now. Get informed, and get tested.
Come down to the Purpose Society testing clinic at 40 Begbie Street in New West the first and third Friday of the month from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. for anonymous and rapid HIV testing and STI and HCV testing. We also provide vaccines, free harm reduction supplies, and condoms! You can also get your questions answered by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org