University opens up opportunities for learning and growth. This can mean learning what you want to do with your life or whether your favourite colour is really red or blue. But what does learning and growth mean when it comes to using drugs and illicit substances safely?
Experimenting with different substances is seen as a rite of passage for a lot of university students. But experimenting is only fun when you’re doing so safely.
If you are planning on engaging with illicit substances, like heroin, ecstacy and cocaine, that could be laced with fentanyl, it’s important to know your limits, to test your substances and to know how to prevent an overdose.
Knowing your limits
If you’re engaging with illicit substances for the first time, it is difficult to know your limits. As a rule of thumb, start with a small quantity.
If your substance could be laced with, or is known to be laced with (see the next section on testing), with fentanyl — a synthetic opioid around 50 times stronger than heroin — large quantities can lead to an overdose faster than other substances. If you’re not sure if your sub- stance contains fentanyl, you can test it.
Testing your substances
You can test your substances many different ways. An easy way to test substances is through fentanyl test strips. Free test strips can be found at the AMS Sexual Assault Support Centre (SASC), the AMS Resource Groups Lobby on the second floor of the Nest on their respective resource tables and at the UBC Wellness Centre front desk in the Life Building.
You can also find test strips at supervised consumption sites across the Lower Mainland. The closest site to campus is the Insite supervised consumption site at 139 E Hastings St. Clean injection equipment, spectrometer drug checking, injection booths and professional medical staff are on site. Drugs can also be tested anonymously online at getyourdrugstested.com.
It’s important to remember that fentanyl test strips cannot detect all types of fentanyl, like carfentanil, so even if the test strip comes back negative, you should never use substances alone and have naloxone on hand in case of an overdose.
What is naloxone?
Naloxone, sold as NarCan, is a substance that can reverse the effects of an overdose when injected into a muscle in the body, typically the arm or thigh (think EpiPen). Medical attention is still needed after naloxone is administered.
Naloxone kits can be found on campus through Student Health Services, the commons- block of every student residence, at the SASC and at Shoppers Drug Mart. You can also pick them up from pharmacies across the Lower Mainland.
As of January 31, 2023, possessing 2.5mg of an illicit substance is decriminalized under BC law but, the use, distribution and possession of illicit substances on campus still goes against UBC’s Student Code of Conduct.
If you are in possession of illicit substances and call 911 if someone overdoses, the Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act provides you with protection for charges for possession of a controlled substance because you called for help