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).

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

Gwen Spencer Hethey is one of four athletes being inducted into the Greater Victoria Sports Hall of Fame this year. Here, she is pictured with her mentor Major Frederick Richardson. (Courtesy of Greater Victoria Sports Hall of Fame)
Four new names added to Greater Victoria Sports Hall of Fame

Matt Pettinger, Gwen Spencer Hethey, Peter Lawless and Roger Skillings being inducted

The District of Saanich is accepting nominations for the 2021 Environmental Awards until June 1 at 4 p.m. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
Nominations now open for Saanich’s 21st annual Environmental Awards

Awards recognize individuals and organizations making Saanich more sustainable

Rotary Club of Victoria-Harbourside president Angus Macpherson visited the Wear2Start Society boutique in Victoria to present a cheque to the society’s vice-president Alessandra Ringstad (left) and president Angela Mangiacasale. (Courtesy of Wear2Start)
Rotary club donates over $11,000 to Greater Victoria non-profit for women

Wear2Start Society provides clothing for women in need

Adrienne Rogers (LPN) and Tracy McConnell (RN) on the Victoria Hospice Unit. (Photo courtesy of Victoria Hospice)
Victoria Hospice bereavement counsellors dealing with a tsunami of grief

Last year, Victoria Hospice provided end-of-life care to more than 1,000 people

Paddles sit stacked and ready at a rowing regatta on Elk Lake in 2018. (Black Press Media file photo)
Greater Victoria junior girls rowing team nabs first in national Row to Tokyo challenge

Young Victoria City Rowing Club members row more than 2,250 km

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

RCMP are looking for information on an alleged shooting attempt near an elementary school in Smithers March 10. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News/Stock)
UPDATE: Man killed in brazen daylight shooting at Vancouver airport

Details about the police incident are still unknown

Pieces of nephrite jade are shown at a mine site in northwestern B.C. in July 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Tahltan Central Government MANDATORY CREDIT
Indigenous nation opposes jade mining in northwestern B.C.

B.C.’s Mines Act requires operators to prepare a plan to protect cultural heritage resources

The body of Brenda Ware, 35, was found along Highway 93 in Kootenay National Park on Thursday, May 6, 2021. (RCMP handout)
RCMP ask for tips after woman’s body found in Kootenay National Park

Brenda Ware was found along Highway 93 in the park, 54 kilometres north of the town of Radium

People pass the red hearts on the COVID-19 Memorial Wall mourning those who have died, opposite the Houses of Parliament on the Embankment in London, Wednesday, April 7, 2021. On May 3, the British government announced that only one person had died of COVID-19 in the previous 24 hours. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Kirsty Wigglesworth
For a view of a COVID-19 future, Canadians should look across the pond

Britain, like Canada, is one of the only countries in the world to delay second doses for several months

Edmonton Oilers’ Connor McDavid (97) celebrates his 100th point this season with Leon Draisaitl (29) against the Vancouver Canucks during second period NHL action in Edmonton on Saturday, May 8, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Edmonton superstar McDavid hits 100-point mark as Oilers edge Canucks 4-3

NHL scoring leader needs just 53 games to reach century mark

Nuns of Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity, carry some of her relics during a vigil of prayer in preparation for the canonization of Mother Teresa in the St. John in Latheran Basilica at the Vatican, Friday, Sept. 2, 2016. In which city did she do much of her charitable work? (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
QUIZ: How much do you know about these motherhood issues?

In honour of Mother’s Day, take this 10-question quiz

Most Read