Drug safety

Experimenting with different substances is seen as a rite of passage for a lot of university students. Drugs can be fun, but they come with varying levels of risk.

Drugs like heroin, ecstasy (MDMA) and cocaine could be laced with fentanyl — a synthetic opioid around 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine — and large quantities of fentanyl can lead to an overdose faster than other substances.

If you’re planning on engaging with substances that could be laced with fentanyl, it’s important to know your limits, to test your substances and know how to prevent an overdose. This article offers some starting resources.

While drug use is often taboo, it’s important to talk about it openly because stigmatizing it won’t stop people from using — it just forces them into secrecy. In the middle of a toxic drug crisis, using unsafe supply alone or in secret is dangerous.


You can test your substances many different ways, including through fentanyl test strips which can be found for free 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 near Columbia Street and E Hastings Street. Insite has professional medical staff on site and also provides clean injection equipment and spectrometer drug checking. You can also test your drugs anonymously online through getyourdrugstested.com.

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.


Naloxone (a.k.a. NarCan) can temporarily reverse the effects of an overdose when injected into a muscle in the body, typically the arm or thigh (think EpiPen). The effects of naloxone last 20–90 minutes and can only temporarily reverse an overdose, so get immediate medical attention after administering naloxone. Subsequent doses may be needed.

Naloxone kits can be found on campus in every residence commonsblock, and you can get kits and training through Student Health Services, at SASC and at Shoppers Drug Mart. You can also pick them up from pharmacies across the Lower Mainland.


Starting this year, possessing 2.5 mg of an illicit substance is decriminalized in BC but the use, distribution and possession of illicit substances on campus still goes against UBC’s Student Code of Conduct and student housing contracts.

If you are in possession of illicit substances and call 911 if someone overdoses, the Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act protects you from charges for possession of a controlled substance because you called for help.


When experimenting with drugs for the first time, you might not know your limits, so creating a safe environment is incredibly important. As a rule of thumb, start with small quantities since the potency of drugs can vary.

Ensure you’re in the company of trusted friends in case of an emergency or overdose, and always tell someone if you’re using so they can watch out for you.