Young people have been overdosing on fentanyl-tainted drugs much more frequently since the onset of the pandemic. In 2021 alone, 1500 young people under the age of 20 died from drug overdoses, with all those deaths involving fentanyl. Many of these youths wanted to buy drugs they believed to be far less potent, such as codeine or Adderall. Instead, they end up with a drug that’s pure fentanyl or tainted with it, leading to over 1500 overdose deaths during one year of the pandemic. And experts say that the worst has yet to come because the US has not yet learned its lessons about the opioid epidemic.

Fentanyl is an Unsafe, Deadly Drug

Nearly all drug overdoses among youth involving fentanyl are accidental. Fentanyl is a drug primarily used for major surgery for people with intense pain from car wrecks or cancer. The drug itself can be 50-100 times as potent as morphine. Because street drug dealers make most fentanyl pills bought online, there’s no way to measure potency from batch to batch. As a result, drug users may end up with much more potency than they expect.

Most fentanyl deaths come from pills obtained via illicit means. However, the prevalence of online drug dealers on WhatsApp, Signal, Telegram, and social media sites has changed how drugs are sold. Counterfeit pills, marketed as Oxy, codeine, morphine, Molly, and other drugs, typically contain fentanyl. Some of these drugs, usually blue, are ONLY fentanyl. Counterfeit drugs are ubiquitous online, and people who use them often meet with tragic outcomes.

People who use opioids are often told to carry Narcan, an overdose-reversal drug that works against opioids. However, nowadays, many drug overdoses that contain fentanyl involve people who have never misused opioids. They have no tolerance to the drug. They may not carry Narcan because they’re not an opioid user.

Education and Prevention Are Key

Education is one of the most important ways to prevent overdoses among young people. Harm reduction methods are also important; people who use any type of drug can still benefit from carrying Narcan to save lives.

Schools and parents also play an outsize role in educating teens about the dangers of drug use.

Parents can inform themselves about how one pill can kill and talk to their children about it. Information and prevention can save lives.

Prescription drug misuse and recreational drug use are often symptoms of a substance use disorder. Help is available for people with addiction at any age. The first step is to pick up the phone and get information on treatment options – please call our 800- number for more information.