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To Test or Not to Test....

Today, our kids are educated on birth control, safe sex practices, STDs, and HIV. Safe sex is a widely talked about topic and no one bats an eyelid. College campus welcome kits include condoms. College dorms have condoms readily available at the front desk in decorative bowls. Very unlike my high school/university days, when it was a ‘taboo’ topic.

You walk onto any high school (private/public), college, or university and you have access to a wide array of drugs: Marijuana, LSD, Shrooms, Prescription Pills (Adderall, OxyContin, Percocet), Ecstasy (Molly), and Cocaine. Alcohol is abundantly available. Underage drinking - Ummm what’s that?

It is very common for unregulated drugs to be mixed. The common mixing agent being FENTANYL! Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that most people consume without the knowledge of it being present in the drugs. Dealers use Fentanyl since it's cheap to manufacture and a small amount goes a long way.

With the rampant increase in recreational drug use, isn’t it time we start teaching and educating our kids on testing for Fentanyl? Fentanyl test strips can identify the presence of Fentanyl in unregulated drugs within minutes. Isn’t it time we start adding Fentanyl testing strips to the college welcome kits? Isn’t it time we send our kids off to college with Fentanyl testing strips in their first aid kits?

I can just see the majority of you shaking your head. No, Not My Kid! Wake up call - College students make up one of the largest consumer groups of drugs. Open attitudes, newfound personal freedom, high test anxiety, and frequent partying can easily be incentives to try and use substances. With the increase in Fentanyl - who knows if someone’s first time will be their last time?

$32 took Lilly’s life, BUT $60 could have saved Lilly. Cause of Death: Acute Fentanyl Overdose within minutes of swallowing the laced Roxys (Oxycontin). This conversation came up a few days after Lilly’s funeral. We were all sitting in the family room and suddenly my brother expressed how angry he was with me. “Heena (the nickname I grew up with), you knew she was an addict, then why did you not teach her how to test what she was using? Why didn’t you teach her how to use safely? Why is there no Narcan in the house (a drug to treat a narcotic overdose in an emergency)? Why did Lilly’s doctor not prescribe Narcan?”

I was furious! Why would I teach my child how to use safely? The goal was abstinence. I did not know about Fentanyl testing strips or drug testing kits. I was naive to think that an addict could abstain from drug use. In rehab, they teach you that relapse is part of the journey. Then why don’t they teach you about testing kits and Narcan? Why does the group oust you and make you feel guilty and shameful with each relapse? Lilly hated that about rehab. The kids were cruel to anyone who relapsed. Lilly would get in trouble for feeding, clothing, giving accommodation, or just helping those that had relapsed. When she relapsed in 2019, the group wanted nothing to do with her. These attitudes added to her feelings of grief, shame, and worthlessness.

My brother took the conversation a step further. Lilly was taking Lithium - a mood stabilizer. It helped Lilly manage her Mania. In addition, Lilly was prescribed Seroquel, an antipsychotic drug. It was a powerful pill to stabilize her mental illness, anxiety, and depression. Today, Seroquel has grown in popularity on the street to give people a ‘good nights rest’. I was responsible for drugging Lilly under a doctor’s care. My brother’s argument was why didn’t I let her experiment and find out what worked for her in safe amounts. Whether an unregulated drug or a legal drug, a drug was a drug. I was drugging my child! What else was I supposed to do? The medication was needed to bring the mania and depression under control and prevent relapse. Lilly was not ready to lead a holistic life and wean off her prescription meds. I was not ready to be open-minded and teach my child how to use safely. I don’t know if I ever would have reached that stage. Can you just imagine the conversation: Hey Beto (my child), how are those psychedelics working out for you?

Lilly was looking to calm her mind down the night she passed away. How do I know? Roxys usually produce an effect of euphoria when abused. In bipolar patients, Roxys have the opposite effect. They work as a powerful antidepressant. Having Narcan in the home would not have saved Lilly that night. She did not have anyone present when she took the Fentanyl laced Roxys. You only have an 8-minute window to administer Narcan. That night, the Fentanyl content was so potent that Lilly slipped away from us within minutes.

Would a Fentanyl test strip or drug testing kit have saved Lilly? Would she have tested the drugs? Would she have thought twice before swallowing the drugs? This is a question that I will never know the answer to!

Asmita and Naina are in college and Simmi is a sophomore (grade 10). We have had the birth control, safe sex, drug, and alcohol conversation with all three of our kids. We have talked about the addictive effects of Adderall. Adderall is very similar to cocaine. However, Adderall has a longer-lasting high, making it a favorite amongst high school and college students. As their parent, my prayer/wish is that they abstain from everything!!! Our kids are adamant that they’ll never try drugs after seeing what happened to Lilly (Lalla Didi). This time, I’m not going to be naive, closed-minded, or judgemental. This time, we’ve taken the conversation a step further - we’ve educated our children on Fentanyl testing strips and drug testing kits!

The drugs are never going to go away! The opioid crisis and increase in Fentanyl related deaths is proof of that. And for whatever its worth, and no matter how radical it sounds, I think it‘s high time society wakes up and starts educating others about ‘Safe Drugs’ instead of ‘No Drugs’, just like ‘Safe Sex’ replaced ‘No Sex’!

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