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Fentanyl forum focuses on misconceptions in the 'burbs

(Courtesy via Facebook: Vancouver Coastal Health)

Free public forum takes place tonight from 7 to 9 pm at Douglas College

The biggest misconception is that fentanyl is only a risk for heroin or other opioid-users: researcher

COQUITLAM (NEWS 1130) – Despite all the media coverage, despite all the warnings, despite all the deaths, the man behind an upcoming public safety forum in the Tri-Cities says too many young people in the suburbs are ignorant of the dangers of fentanyl.

Gerry Gramozis, a psychology instructor at Douglas College in Coquitlam, organized tonight’s meeting after some eye-opening conversations about addiction and harm-reduction in his classroom.

“What was being said is that students are doing drugs but they weren’t concerned about overdosing because they were not buying their drugs from the Downtown Eastside,” he tells NEWS 1130.

That prompted Gramozis to put together the public forum with some help from Fraser Health, Douglas College and Share Family and Community Services.

“It’s a way to educate people living in Coquitlam that you can’t just assume your drugs are safe because you are buying them in Coquitlam. You need to be aware of what’s happening out there. There’s a lot of uncertainty about what drugs are actually on the streets, they don’t know where to access help, they don’t know where to access naloxone, there just seems to be a general sense that they’re not aware of what to do.”

Gramozis says the biggest misconception he hears from students is that fentanyl is only a risk for heroin or other opioid-users.

“They think they don’t need to worry about cocaine, MDMA or other drugs that are used recreationally because they think they are not buying their drugs from a part of the community where there’s a problem. It’s that naivety that is concerning.”

The free public forum takes place tonight from 7 to 9 pm at Douglas College’s David Lam Campus in Coquitlam, in Room A1470.

Fentanyl cut into street drugs has caused hundreds of overdose deaths across BC this year, with the biggest concentration in the Fraser Health Authority.

The most commonly mixed drugs involved in fentanyl-overdose deaths in BC are cocaine (50 per cent of deaths), ethyl alcohol (38 per cent of deaths), methamphetamine/amphetamine (34 per cent of deaths), and heroin (32 per cent of deaths).

The prevalence of powerful opioid prompted BC’s Chief Medical Health Officer to declare a public health emergency in April.