University Students Need to Educate Themselves on Drug Safety and Policy

When it comes to drugs, ignorance is not bliss

(Nat Mussell)

Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy is an organization which believes that “young people have a right to evidence-based cannabis education.” It currently lists 18 satellite chapters across seven provinces in Canada, according to its website.

One of its chapters is at Kwantlen Polytechnic University, though there has been no activity on its Facebook page since November 2017. Why? Because the person who ran the page was Richard Hossein, the man who allegedly defrauded the Kwantlen Public Interest Research Group of over $111,000 and is believed to now be in Vietnam.

Hopefully some other member of KPU’s student body will soon be willing to take the reigns of Kwantlen Students for Sensible Drug Policy. If not, the only people who suffer will be the students.  

A few days ago, I came across a used syringe lying a few feet away from my condo’s entrance and, worse, just metres away from an elementary school playground. At first I just stared at it, unsure of what to do or who to call for its proper disposal.

This is our problem. Drug use and addiction are going to touch the lives of many of KPU’s 19,000+ students. Even if it doesn’t personally affect you, because of the stranglehold that addiction has on the lives of thousands of British Columbians, it is everyone’s problem.

CBC reports that “nearly 90 per cent of people who died [of an opioid overdose] were alone inside a home when they suffered an overdose,” and “four out of five were men.” The people who are dying aren’t just downtrodden, unattached users on the Downtown Eastside. They’re fathers, brothers, daughters, friends, and neighbours.

The City of Vancouver and the Vancouver Police Department have adopted a “Four Pillars” drug strategy which focuses on harm reduction, prevention, treatment, and enforcement as opposed to prosecuting drug users for minor offenses. While there are addictions experts, researchers, and first responders who succeed in easing the pain that the opioid crisis inflicts on its sufferers, far more needs to be done.

I’m no expert on narcotics or addiction, but there is one thing I do know: the definition of “insanity” is doing the exact same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome. This is exactly what Metro Vancouver’s approach to the opioid epidemic has been over the past few years. Now, steering the focus more towards education and awareness can benefit both the general public and university students specifically. This is true not only on a municipal level, but also in our own community at KPU.

People are always going to use drugs. Because of this, the public must be educated on the topic to make safe decisions. For example, make sure you’re not alone when using opioids, don’t mix different drugs together, never get in the car with someone who isn’t sober, don’t share intravenous equipment, and seek help if you’re feeling unwell after or while using drugs. There is much more to be known besides this as well.

University students are intelligent and eager to learn. When it comes to a topic as prominent and complex as drug use and its effects, students want to be educated. We just need to be given the opportunity to do so.

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