Worried about your teen and drugs? 5 things CBC asked Winnipeg police
'There's lots of drugs out there and the kids are very aware of it' says Const. Andrew Wahl
When Winnipeg Police head into schools to educate students about drugs this year, they'll be including a specific section focusing on fentanyl.
Const. Andrew Wahl, one of nine officers with the School Education Section, said the decision to add a more in depth conversation about fentanyl came after the number of recent deaths linked to the powerful prescription drug. The unit speaks with students in grades 3, 6 and 9 throughout the city, covering issues like online safety, bullying and drugs.
CBC News asked Wahl exactly what he's talking to teens about as part of the drug awareness presentation, and what he thinks parents should know about drugs.
What do you say to students about fentanyl?
"One: you may be unknowingly taking it if you're buying a street drug. The marijuana you're buying, the cocaine, these things can be cut with fentanyl and it's dangerous and it can kill you. The first time you take it you can die and just think about that. Let that settle in. Like, is it worth it? The answer is 'no.'"
What have teenagers said that surprised you?
"The amount of things they're being exposed to at parties is probably the biggest thing, whether it's alcohol, prescription medication, or things like cocaine and marijuana, because there's lots of drugs out there and the kids are very aware of it and they're seeing it."
What can parents do?
"The biggest thing I would say is talk to your kids. And whether you're talking to your kids about tobacco, alcohol, or prescription drugs, communicate with them. Let them know about it. Tell them why it's dangerous and let them know 'Hey, you can talk to me about it.' And that's the biggest thing. Keeping that line of communication open and talking to them about it."
What have teens said to you about prescription drugs?
"They'll swap them. They'll take them to get high and sometimes they're taking things that they don't know they are putting in their bodies. You know, one thing we always tell them: it's like with medication, if someone is sick with cancer they are given a drug for specific reasons, but that drug has side effects.... But you know what? The side effects [can] kind of [outweigh] what that person is going through and experiencing. Well, taking a drug like that recreationally can be very dangerous for you."
How can parents educate kids about prescription drugs?
"Some people are ill and require this medication. But, it's a matter of educating their kids and letting them know, 'Hey mom and dad do have this medication at home.' But you know what? It's dangerous and you shouldn't be taking it.'"
Wahl said he hears students talk most about alcohol, tobacco and marijuana. Part of his presentation also includes vaping, steroid use and where youth can get help for addiction.