Universities stocking new anti-overdose medication
As the school year approaches for university students across the Maritimes, some schools have changed the way they run their orientation weeks.
Dalhousie has introduced a no-alcohol policy during their orientation week, meaning students aren’t allowed to drink in dorms or at any of the activities.
The policy follows the 2015 death of an international student whose autopsy revealed that the student died of alcohol poisoning. The student had been drinking with her roommates in her Dalhousie dorm.
New to Dalhousie University, Peter Crowley says he’s excited for orientation week to begin.
“They’re checking out for our safety for sure, and they're making sure everyone's safe on campus and I feel quite safe with that around, knowing that,” he says.
Crowley’s mother, Judy Phillips says the policy makes sense to her.
“My husband and I introduced sips of wine at the dinner table early in life just to acclimatize our children to safely drinking and enjoying alcohol responsibly, but certainly I can see in O-week, with thousands of students, young students, underage students, where a stricter policy is warranted,” she says.
Dalhousie has also brought on kits of a medication that can potentially counter the effects of a drug overdose called “naloxone.”
Phillips says the need for these measures is new to her but she’s glad there will be extra precautions.
“It is scary to know that's now part of their reality,” she says. “When I went to university, it probably wasn't, but I think I feel better as a parent, knowing that there's trained individuals who can use these kits I the event that they're needed.”
Vice president of Student Life at the Dalhousie Student Union, Cory Larsen says the new measures are all to ensure the safety of his fellow students.
“I think it's all about student safety, the university has a number one concern about our students,” says Larsen. “Unfortunately there is a rise in fentanyl use, opioids across the country, so we have to take precautions in making sure we have people on hand who can deal with that as soon as possible.”
In a statement, Dalhousie officials told CTV News that their residence assistants are security staff, as well as emergency health responders trained on the use of naloxone.
Other Nova Scotia universities are also looking at stocking the medication kits.
In an email, officials from Saint Mary’s University said they are beginning an awareness campaign for students next week and they are currently exploring options for how to respond to incidents involving illegal substances and opioids.
Mount Saint Vincent University told CTV News that their security staff and RAs have been trained on how to administrate naloxone and it is already on campus.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Emily Baron Cadloff.