Students out of the loop when it comes to fentanyl

Danielle Doiron, Sports & Lifestyle Editor

Fentanyl overdoses have been in the news for months, but some students are saying they haven’t been paying attention. The pills pictured above are similar in appearance to fentanyl. THE PROJECTOR/Emily Enns

Students are often told to try everything to get the most out of their college experience. Well, maybe not everything.

The Winnipeg Police Service (WPS) reported on Sept. 3 three people had taken fentanyl the night before and were admitted to hospital. In August, police reported a steady increase over the past three years in the number of overdose deaths where fentanyl was detected, either alone or with another drug.

Fentanyl is a powerful opiate normally given to patients recovering from surgery through injections, patches or lozenges.When mixed with heroin or cocaine, fentanyl becomes more potent, dangerous and, in some cases, deadly.

Over one weekend this August, two separate and local incidences of drug overdoses that may have involved fentanyl caused one death and two hospitalizations. On Aug. 15, the WPS released a public safety notification to “remind the public of the dangers that can be associated to the consumption of drugs such as Cocaine and/or Fentanyl.”

But some students said they never got the message.

“I have no idea what that is,” said Ryan Checkley, a Red River College business administration student, when asked about fentanyl.

His classmate, Lauren Wycoff answered similarly.

“I’ve never heard of it,” she said. “It’s news to me, too.”

Robert Kozakewich said he’s in the same boat.

“I have zero knowledge on that subject,” the University of Manitoba student said. “I’m fairly ignorant when it comes to drugs.”

Though today’s student is more connected online than ever, Catherine Comte said you can’t judge a student’s drug knowledge by her young face.

Infographic by Vanessa Ogibowski


“I’ve heard of people assuming that all young people should know everything about drugs,” she said. “It’s like they think that just because we’re young, we know everything bad.”

A second-year nursing student at Université Saint-Boniface, Comte said she studies drugs but hasn’t learned much about them outside the classroom.

“The word [fentanyl] itself is definitely familiar, but I’m not 100 per cent sure as to what the meaning is,” she said.

Harshvir Bali also said he couldn’t place the term.

“I feel like I’ve heard the name, but I don’t know about it,” he said.

An anthropology student at the University of Manitoba, Bali said he knows information about drugs like fentanyl is available, but students don’t seek it out.

“Popularity comes from awareness,” he said. “It’s true that media is becoming more accessible, but at the end of the day, most people get their news from their news feed, which varies depending on who they follow.”

Then how does he get information?

“You hear about things like this from friends or friends of friends. I’m not saying that all people don’t read articles. I’m sure there’s a large population that might, but many don’t. I’ve got friends like that, and I’ve got siblings like that. They have no idea.”

But while Bali said he thinks the way young adults consume news is problematic, and, in this case, dangerous, he’s “not sure about a solution.”

“I guess I haven’t really thought about it as much as I should.”

ASHLEY TOKARUK, CREATIVE COMMUNITCATIONS Isn’t it an opiate? I read an article that they found traces of it in cocaine in the city. It came up on my Twitter. I don’t really know anything else about it.

ASHLEY TOKARUK,CREATIVE COMMUNITCATIONSIsn’t it an opiate? I read an articlethat they found traces of it incocaine in the city. It came up on myTwitter. I don’t really know anythingelse about it.

CAMERON MACANGUS, BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION One of the kids got sick and died. Why are you buying oxys? That’s your problem right there. Just don’t buy hard painkillers when you don’t need them.

CAMERON MACANGUS,BUSINESS ADMINISTRATIONOne of the kids got sick and died.Why are you buying oxys? That’s yourproblem right there. Just don’t buyhard painkillers when you don’t needthem.

MITCH GOULAY, BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION It’s been on the news a lot lately. It’s laced with something, so a lot of people are dying of overdose. If you need them, your doctor will give them to you, and they won’t kill you, probably.

MITCH GULAY,BUSINESS ADMINISTRATIONIt’s been on the news a lot lately.It’s laced with something, so a lot ofpeople are dying of overdose.If you need them, your doctor willgive them to you, and they won’t killyou, probably.