Youth take the lead on fentanyl education in school
Youth wish to promote "widespread intervention and education"
By Sarah Amy Leung
Eight years into B.C.’s toxic drug crisis, a youth-led organization is stepping up to inform students about overdose prevention and the dangers of fentanyl.
Chloe Goodison, a current health sciences student at SFU, founded NaloxHome in 2021. The organization leads presentations in Burnaby and Coquitlam school districts.
NaloxHome focuses on many facets of overdose crisis education, from defining an overdose, how to administer naloxone, and reasons why someone may use drugs.
Despite the B.C. government declaring an overdose crisis in 2016, Goodison says the crisis lacks a proper response.
Goodison says that many overlook the influence of trauma on drug usage. By ignoring trauma and lived experiences, blaming users for their addiction dismisses “all the policy and societal failures that caused them to use drugs in the first place.”
Between 2012–2022, nearly 13,000 people died from illicit drug overdoses, and fentanyl contributed to most deaths.
Goodison references the treatment of the COVID-19 pandemic as an example for the province to follow. “There needs to be widespread intervention and education so everybody is equipped to contribute to the demise [of] the crisis.”
Goodison educated herself through her previous involvement with destigmatizing campaigns by the Tri-City Community Action Team. Without self-education and local involvement, she says many youths lack resources on the topic.
“If [students] didn’t go out of their way to get this education, they would never learn about BC’s overdose crisis.”
When asked about students’ responses, Goodison says sessions receive positive comments. She credits her team’s demographic, solely comprised of youth themselves, as a unique and effective way to engage with students.
“[Students] feel like we’re relatable, and we’re not just some teachers or police officers or parents beckoning down, ‘don’t do drugs,’ and ‘just say no,’ and all these kinds of stigmatizing messages.”
Furthermore, Goodison adds that although educating students helps with awareness, the crisis affects everyone. “Even if you don’t use drugs, and you think you’re a million steps removed from the crisis, it’s still a problem in our backyard.”
NaloxHome is in the process of becoming a registered charity, which Goodison hopes will happen in the coming months. After NaloxHome’s official registration, she plans to expand the program further than Coquitlam, Burnaby, and its upcoming UBC Vancouver branch.
“My dream for this program is for it to be taken up by the Ministry of Education or the Ministry of Health on some level and implemented widespread into B.C. high schools.”