Yukon students have gone back to school, and learning about the potential dangers of fentanyl will be part of their curriculum this year.
The information will be part of an existing program which teaches students “about illicit drugs throughout the curriculum,” from kindergarten to Grade 12, said Nicole Morgan, the assistant deputy minister of the Department of Education’s learning branch.
It’s presented in association with the Department of Health and Social Services, which provides resources and materials for the program, she said.
In kindergarten through to Grade 3, students learn about the dangers of various household poisons and medications — basically, that “what you put in your body can harm you,” she said.
In Grades 4 and 5, teachers start talking to kids about drugs like alcohol, marijuana and tobacco, she said, along with their potential effects. In Grades 6 and 7, students begin to learn about the social and personal risks of illicit drug and alcohol abuse, including fentanyl. From Grades 8 to 12, students learn about potential health and well-being issues associated with these substances.
Last year, information about fentanyl was provided to students in Grade 12 as part of the graduation package, she said. Drug and alcohol counselling is available to students.
Fentanyl is opioid, the same class of drugs as heroine and morphine. It can cause an overdose in very small quantities. An opioid overdose can cause depressed respiration, loss of consciousness and death.
Earlier this year, the Yukon Coroner’s Service said five deaths in the territory had been linked to fentanyl.
An opioid overdose may be reversed by administering the drug naloxone.
As of this year, all schools are equipped with naloxone kits, which the principals have been trained to use.
“Fentanyl is a serious problem, for sure, and we are definitely taking it seriously and educating ourselves and our kids about it…. It’s not just something you see on TV. It’s happening right here in our community in the Yukon,” Morgan said.
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