Fentanyl poses a great danger to today’s generation. The fact that it is usually hidden and undetectable makes it even more hazardous. Most people don’t realize their drugs are laced with fentanyl, which is why it’s vital to be aware of its risks. Parents, guardians and educators have a responsibility to equip children & teens with drug prevention education in order to keep them safe from the growing substance abuse risk.
Preventing Fentanyl Use
Substance misuse prevention starts with education. As parents or guardians, how we present drug use (or avoidance of it) to our children can go a long way in how they apply it. Since fentanyl is often added to illegal drugs, the most reliable way to protect against its use is to avoid using all drugs. Open communication and education are instrumental in achieving this goal.
In the context of fentanyl, drug awareness should involve educating people about safety when using the internet, the extreme danger of this substance and its ability to be undetectable.
Tips For Parents
Speak honestly with your kids about choices and risky behaviors.
Be clear and consistent about family rules, boundaries, and guidelines.
Listen to what they have to say, respect their opinions, and do not be judgmental.
Encourage positive friendships and encourage them to find things that interest them.
Educate them about online safety and safe and healthy social media use.
Create a safe space for them to ask questions. Never make them feel wrong for wanting to know more about drugs.
Correct wrong beliefs they may have with factual information. Help them learn, don’t just lecture.
Stay educated on current drug trends so you can teach your children.
What is Fentanyl?
Fentanyl is a Synthetic Opioid
This means it is manufactured and not occurring naturally. Fentanyl is created, both legally and illegally, in labs across the world.
Fentanyl is a Powerful Drug
Reports show that fentanyl can be 50x more potent than heroin and 100x more powerful than morphine.
Fentanyl is Deadly
According to the CDC, synthetic opioids like fentanyl are responsible for over 150 deaths every day.
How are Kids Getting Fentanyl?
Due to the internet and social media, teenagers today have an easier way to get a hold of illegal drugs. Social media networks such as Facebook, Instagram, Tik Tok, and Snapchat are all avenues through which teens can purchase drugs. They may also be getting drugs from more traditional avenues such as other students or street dealers they may pass going to and from school.
Learn More About Online Drug Dealers
Drug traffickers have been utilizing social media networks as a platform for their marketing and sales activities. Buyers are able to find what they’re looking for by using simple keywords, emojis, hashtags, and other communication tactics. Drug traffickers are known to post and share stories on different platforms to promote their activities. Even when accounts are shut down, they just create new ones and continue the same activity.
The buyer will direct message or comment on the post using code words or emojis. Conversations will then move to encrypted messaging platforms like Signal, WhatsApp, or Telegram. Once the deal is made, payment is made through Venmo, Paypal, or cryptocurrency. The packages are then shipped via standard post.
This is a highly concerning situation, especially when the majority of drugs purchased through this means are contaminated with fentanyl. Young people who assume they are trying out a “safe” drug can find themselves in serious danger.
Why Fentanyl is Hard to Avoid
Fortunately, not many young people are trying to intentionally use fentanyl due to its high risk. Unfortunately, however, a lot of unsuspecting individuals have stumbled upon it and been put in harm’s way. This is because it is used as an additive to many illicit drugs. The presence of fentanyl in illicit drugs such as heroin, cocaine, meth and even marijuana is a growing concern. Counterfeit pills that are designed to look like legitimate prescription meds have also been known to contain fentanyl. This puts teenagers experimenting with these substances at greater risk of harm.
A Closer Look at Teen Fentanyl Deaths
Fentanyl is dangerous to children and teens because of its use as a cutting agent in illicit drugs. Drug dealers are adding fentanyl to other street drugs to make them more potent and deadly. Unsuspecting youth who are looking to experiment with a completely different drug are coming in contact with fentanyl. This trend is causing an increase in adolescent deaths.
According to the Journal of American Medical Association, fentanyl-involved adolescent deaths have increased dramatically in recent years. From 2019 to 2020 these fatalities almost tripled, and from 2020 to 2021 there was an additional increase of 20% in these deaths. If this trend continues we will see even more young lives lost in 2022 and 2023.