3 min read

Fentanyl: A parental approach

So far in 2015, Fentanyl has been responsible for 145 deaths in Alberta; a sharp and concerning rise from the 120 Fentanyl associated deaths reported in the province for the whole of 2014.

Fentanyl is cheap, plentiful on the streets and delivers a powerful high but its strength means that younger ‘experimental’ users and those unused to opiates are most at risk from an overdose.

The increasing popularity of the drug, which is 40 times more potent than heroin, is causing concern in communities across Calgary, particularly among families with teens.

Jenna Miller, Managing Director of Family Counselling and Community Services, with extensive experience working in the field of addiction and mental health programming including detox, rehab and counselling, shares her advice for parents of youth.

“Parents are often reluctant to have these heavy, serious conversations with their kids but the reality is if you’re not talking to them about drugs, someone else will and encouragement to take something will most likely to come from a source they trust, like a classmate or friend.

The teenage brain is incredibly impulsive and the part that deals with consequences and forethought is ‘off-line’ in the adolescent years which means even the most well-behaved kids are susceptible to making bad decisions.

The best approach is to have the conversation.  I’m concerned, I love you, I want you to be safe are all great places to start.  Tell them about the consequences and make sure they know they have a safe place to turn in times of trouble.

When we’re dealing with youth who are already using drugs, there are a couple of approaches.  Expressing your concern is a good starting point: let them know you’re afraid for them and you want the best for them.  Always make sure they know they have a safe place to return to within the family unit.  Sobriety doesn’t happen in a vacuum, it happens within the support of a family or a community.

Secondly, try and figure out what’s motivating them to use in the first place.  If you can understand what’s  causing them to want to escape their reality, you can do something about it.  Don’t focus on the behavior; look at the reasons behind it.  That’s a good starting place for change.”

Carya runs Seeking Safety, a 10-week program for teens and adults dealing with addiction and trauma.  Our next program for youth kicks off September 22nd, find out more here.
More information on Fentanyl including FAQ’s can be found here.