Take responsibility.

It’s a message that resonates now, as Ottawa is experiencing the beginning of an opioid epidemic. The illicit drugs fentanyl and carfentanil, found cut into other drugs, have already claimed the lives of 25 users in the region this year. People are dying.

This staggering information was shared at a meeting held in Kanata hosted by various municipal leaders. The tiny room was packed with hundreds of concerned parents.

But not one single college-aged student had attended.

Why is our generation not taking advantage of sessions like this to help guide us through better choices?

The Algonquin Times has recently been tackling the idea that the college can always do more to benefit its students. It’s time for this generation to realize, however, that truly only they can hold themselves accountable for the actions they commit.

As young adults, it is our responsibility to educate ourselves and learn from these recent overdoses. All too often there are cases of young people going to house parties or meeting friends, being greeted with tiny white pills they know nothing about.

What part in our subconscious makes us think it’s okay to take something we have never seen or experienced before? We’ve been warned about the dangers of mysterious pills. Our generation of students have been learning since middle school that alcohol is bad. Cigarettes are bad. Drugs are bad.

So why are otherwise sound students choosing to do all of those things?

In a survey conducted at Algonquin, 15 out of 22 students said they started taking drugs and alcohol recreationally. What it boils down to is students taking drugs for the thrill of it, according to pediatrician Dr. Patricia Schram. Students are curious of the effects it will have on their bodies and minds. The “curiosity killed the cat” memo was lost under peer pressure and temptation.

It’s important to tackle the temptation of opioid (and other substance) abuse before it even happens. Preventative measures are important. Part of combating that desire of college-aged students who “want to give it a try” is making them realize that once they decide to take that tiny white pill, they must assume all of the consequences that follow.

Students of post-secondary age may be quick to play the blame game by pointing fingers at lack of education, missing resources or lost parental conversations.

These students are grown up now, however. There is no one else to blame but themselves.

No more excuses. As a student in Canada you are blessed with free will and a world of opportunities. You have a choice of careers, friends, family and activities. You can decide to also say “no” to those white pills, because deep down inside you know no one is forcing you to make the wrong choice.

The guilt a student may feel after giving that pill, that joint or that bottle a try is called doubt. Your choice is now your burden. Of course, all of this can be avoided if we take action and prepare ourselves for the choices we should be making.

It’s time to have our own backs and make the right choices. It’s time to take responsibility when we makes the wrong ones.