By Laura Roulston
Canada is currently facing an epidemic, spreading and growing in severity across the country, it has already taken thousands of lives, this epidemic is fentanyl. But how did the country get to this point, where situations have grown so desperate that members of the medical communities and Parliament are urging the Federal Government here in Ottawa to enact the Emergencies Act typically reserved for situations like natural disasters or wars.
The increase in narcotic use and in result the increase in overdoses can be traced back to about 20 years ago when a massive increase was seen in the number of prescriptions for narcotic pain killers being given by doctors. This increase occurred due to the introduction of narcotic painkillers for the treatment of chronic pain and has since paved the way for the development of the current opioid crisis. Once medical communities began to realize the common over prescribing of these highly addictive narcotics and how a country wide dependence was unfolding there was a push to make pharmaceutical opioids less available. This however did not change the fact that already thousands of Canadians were addicted. The withdrawal symptoms an addict would experience from opioids are so horrible that those addicted began turning to the streets to gain access to the drugs as a method to avoid withdrawal, it is here where they find fentanyl.
Given the enormity of the demand for opioids dealers responded by maximizing their supplies through mixing the incredibly potent fentanyl to the drugs to amplify the effects and increase their profit. The most common of these are “Fake 80’s, Oxy 80’s or Green Monsters” counterfeit versions of the commonly abused drug OxyContin which appear the exact same as the prescription version. There has never been a more dangerous time to source drugs on the street than now due to the increased presence of fentanyl and the even more dangerous carfentanil across the country. Only the smallest amount is needed to reach a fatal dose and it appears in drugs without the users knowing what they are taking. This makes the consumption of any illicit substance which could potentially be laced like playing Russian Roulette.
Currently the country is experiencing an astonishing number of deaths and overdoses due to fentanyl. In 2016 alone the province of British Columbia saw 914 deaths and countless overdoses. On average, there are 7 deaths a day across the country, 4 of which occur in BC alone due to opioid overdoses. It has been estimated by professionals that there will be up to 2000 deaths this year without drastic action to combat the crisis. Given the current desperation of the crisis and its rapid progression over the last year, many steps have been taken in order to help combat the crisis by decreasing the death toll and overdose rates.
The federal government of Canada has taken action to combat the crisis in The Joint Statement of Action to Address the Opioid Crisis where many action notices are proposed. Health Canada is taking several steps, including increasing the access to Naloxone also known as NARCAN, the medication used to reverse the effects of opioids during a narcotic overdose. Naloxone has recently become readily available without a prescription in order to allow those who need it a dose, to give them a chance to make it to the hospital and get the help that they need. Take home naloxone kits are available at no cost for anyone who uses opioids or those who are likely to witness and respond to an overdose. Naloxone is often what brings those who overdose back, however, medical professionals are noticing increased doses being required due to the emergence of carfentanil noting cases where patients need 10-20 times the typical dose in order to revive them. Health Canada is committed to increasing access to the life saving drug in rural and Indigenous communities throughout the country. Health Canada is also supporting a range of tools and harm reduction measures, including but not limited to supervised consumption sites. The country currently only has 2 safe consumption sites, both of which are located in, the highly affected downtown East side of Vancouver. As well as proposing any necessary amendments to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act to remove any undue barriers introduced by the Respect for Communities Act in the opening of these consumption sites.
Health Canada is also taking the necessary measures to better inform Canadians about the risks of opioids, support better prescribing practices, reduce easy access to unnecessary opioids, reduce the availability and harms of street drugs through control of fentanyl precursors and finally supporting better treatment options for patients seeking help. The opioid crisis has created a complex public health and social issue with devastating consequences for individuals, families and communities throughout the nation. This crisis that the country is currently facing is severe currently spreading like a disease over the country, beginning in Vancouver and slowly but surely making its way across the Nation.
By : Kaoutar Abeja & Katelyn McRae
Safe to say, I think we’re all guilty of staying up way too late whilst watching random TV shows, binging on Youtube® videos, or scrolling through Instagram®. Amid these late night procrastination sessions you’ve probably come across those sponsored commercials and ads for “fit teas” and miracle weight loss initiatives, with slogans like ‘Lose 15lbs in just two weeks!” As the late night cravings set in and you’re reaching for that crispy, savoury bag of potato chips, I would say these promises sure seem far from unappealing for the average individual. You’re telling me I can sit here, stuff my face, sip some tea and look like a Kardashian in a couple of weeks…sign me up!
As we live in a consumer-driven society where everything is fast-paced and going to the gym or preparing proper meals seems like a daunting task. Not to mention, we take pride in our ownership of the latest trends and deals. I mean, take a quick look around, how many pairs of RayBan® sunglasses and Canada Goose® jackets can you count? And those aren’t cheap, but many of us are guilty of claiming that we “need” them.
We're getting off track though, so let’s get back to these fit fads, do they really work or this just another shot at the weak consumer that lingers within us all? We’re going to shed a little bit of light on a couple types of fitness fads that have been recently gracing the weight loss market with their presence. These are the beloved “fit teas” that we see Kylie Jenner flaunting alongside her lip kits and other diet trends like those Instagram® posts that claim I can lose 5lbs if I put mint leaves in my water.
First up, fit teas; why are so many celebrities endorsing various brands of this miracle tea that promises to shed those extra pounds? While these teas are catching the attention of teens and young adults across the globe, I decided to do a little bit of digging into what’s actually in these teas. Wouldn’t we all like to know what exactly we’re drinking? Now we can’t speak for all brands, but although these teas claim to be herbal and 100% natural in most cases, it does not mean these ingredients are not harmful. It’s important that we remember that the natural ingredients in some situations can be more potent than their synthetic counterparts. In most cases, the ingredients that make these fit teas “work” are a natural form of laxatives!! Thus, much of the weight being lost tends to be water weight, which is easy weight to put back on once the tea drinking ceases and the individual returns to their regular habits. In extreme cases, especially in sensitive individuals, these laxatives can wreak havoc on the balance of potassium and other ions in the body that are essential for proper organ function.
Now lets take a look at these fad diet trends. Much like fit teas, what initially attracts our interest is the minimal effort one needs to put in to lose weight. In a matter of days, we typically notice that we have already lost a few pounds, making it feel like we’re racing towards our goals without having to chain ourselves to a treadmill. In most cases, these trends suggest restrictive dieting in the form of detoxes or cutting out carbs, sugars, gluten, etc. Although these may work and even be necessary for some people, such as those individuals who are legitimately gluten intolerant or even diabetic, it is important to proceed with caution when adopting a restrictive diet.
Listen to your body, and list to your healthcare professional! These trends have potential to upset our natural metabolism and neurological signals that are body emits in the form of hormones to let us know when we’re hungry or full. In addition, eliminating important nutrients from our diets simultaneously eliminates sources of energy. The combination of a lack of both nutrients and energy can lead to fatigue, dizziness, muscle atrophy, hair loss, and dry skin. Every human being requires a balance of essential macro and micronutrients including a variety of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Without these the body simply cannot do its job; essentially, it doesn’t have the “gas” it needs to keep the engine running.
You’re now probably wondering what to think about these fit fads, right? Surely not all of them are bad and some may suggest a legitimate way to manage weight. All we are asking is that you take the time to be more critical about adopting these habits. Do some research on what exactly you’re putting in your body and if you’re not sure, it’s always a good idea to consult a physician. Ultimately, this is your body, take care of it and do what you can adopt a healthy lifestyle.
Want to know more? Join us at Fact or Fiction: Debunking Modern Myths. We are incredibly excited to be hosting Hélène Charlebois, who will be debunking myths regarding natural health products and fit fads like above! Buy you tickets today --> http://guestli.st/448113
Hey you! You ambitious student you… we’re about to delve into the world of study drugs with a focus on what many of you may know quite well as “Addy”. This prescription medication formally known as Adderall is used to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). However, it is typically used by students to concentrate during the most intensive of study sessions. I think we can all agree the public service announcements have been done over and over again. Thus, as a Health Science student at the University of Ottawa I decided I wanted to give you a student’s view of the issue to shine some light on what may be the root of the problem.
Take a look around; your fellow classmates cramming on the silent floor of the library aren’t uneducated individuals to say the least. In fact, some of the students that may be using Adderall are even in programs like Biopharmaceuticals, Health Sciences, and Biomedical Sciences. These people are literally studying the effects of drugs like Adderall! Most them could probably tell you the negative impact on the brain right down to the molecular mechanism. If these people know exactly what they’re taking and what the drug does, then why is it they continue to take it?? Taking Adderall just to study the negative effects of Adderall - ironic isn’t it?
With the average Undergraduate University student aged anywhere from 17 to 22 years old, a lot of people may label such tendencies as “risky behaviours” that stem from the sense of invincibility that is common within this age group. Although this may play a role I think many students may agree with me when I say I don’t think that’s the main reason they choose to abuse Adderall.
We’re requiring these kids to ask permission to leave class to go to the washroom and then we turn around and say you’re on your own.
We’re going to look at the school system for a second. High school students are given limited autonomy throughout their senior years, then they graduate and they’re sent to University or College with hopefully a few coping skills to get them through. Basically, we’re requiring these kids to ask permission to leave class to go to the washroom and then we turn around and say you’re on your own. Now you need to learn how to cook, clean, make your own appointments, network, study, find a job, friends, and more. To me that seems nothing less of an evident gap in the system. Although this may not provide evidence of a slippery slope that leads to study drug abuse, it is definitely grounds for something to go wrong.
The workload itself is overwhelming for most before addressing these lifestyle factors. Thus, many students may feel cornered and take any way out. So if it’s study drugs like Adderall that will get them through then study drugs it is. With Undergraduate degrees becoming the new equivalent of high school diplomas in terms of job requirements, many feel worthless without one.
If we define one’s worth by their education and we employ a standardized system a young adult will feel pressured do everything in their power to achieve this worth, even if they are putting their health at risk. One of my favourite quotes from Albert Einstein that embodies the effects of a standardized education system is “[e]verybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” Thus, if study drugs offer a way for this metaphorical fish to climb the tree, no matter what the risks are, the fish is likely to take the “study drug” that lets it do so. The fish may be ill and subjected to a lower quality of life in the end, but it will still have climbed that tree.
Why can’t post-secondary institutions embark on a movement towards creating an environment that doesn’t cause students to feel the need to essentially abuse their bodies to be successful?
I’m not making any excuses for anyone who chooses to abuse these study drugs like Adderall, an individual ultimately has control over whether they choose to engage in risky behaviour. However, I think that more needs to be done to address the root of the problem as the informative measures employed at present only scrape the surface. In addition, any recommendations are often a reaction to students already engaging in study drug use, but they don’t always prevent the use from starting in the first place. Why can’t post-secondary institutions embark on a movement towards creating an environment that doesn’t cause students to feel the need to essentially abuse their bodies to be successful?
Want to know more? AFH’s 6th annual conference, Fact or Fiction: Debunking Modern Myths will take place Feb 17-18th 2017. Stay tuned as we announce the other topics & ticket sales!
For more information on some of the risk of Adderall use and recent usage trends the following website provides an excellent resource: http://americanaddictioncenters.org/adderall/side-effects/