What is Fentanyl?
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is estimated to be 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine. It is a powerful and highly addictive drug that is responsible for a significant portion of the opioid epidemic that has swept across the United States and other countries. The drug is commonly used in medical settings as a strong pain reliever and anesthetic, but it is also frequently used recreationally or hidden, unbeknownst to the user, in illicit pills that teens can purchase from the internet. The dangers of overdosing on fentanyl are significant, and as a parent, it is important to be aware of the signs of use and what to look for.
Why Should I Be Concerned?
I know what you’re thinking, my child would never do this. And I can tell you that almost every parent who has buried their child from fentanyl poisoning, has said the same thing. Their child wasn’t a bad kid, they took a fake pill from a friend or found it online. Children as young as 11 have found these pills on the internet and have succumbed to them.
Fentanyl is often mixed with other drugs including cocaine and methamphetamines to enhance their effects, but most teens think they are taking a Percocet™, Xanax™, Oxycodone™, an Adderall™ or similar pill. Many of these illicit fentanyl-laced pills are pressed in someone’s garage or basement and the fake pills are almost impossible to detect from the authentic pills. The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) “has found that, of the fentanyl-laced fake…pills analyzed in 2022, six out of ten now contain a potentially lethal dose of fentanyl.” Children who find these pills on Snapchat, Instagram, and other social media are essentially being poisoned to death. The statistics have grown and the unfortunate familiar scenario of parents waking up to find their children deceased in their rooms has increased too.
“I know what you’re thinking, my child would never do this.”
According to the CDC, more than 150 people die every day from overdoses related to synthetic opioids like fentanyl. The signs of fentanyl poisoning can be difficult to spot.
However, some common symptoms to watch for include:
- Slow breathing or cessation of breathing
- Extreme drowsiness or unconsciousness
- Confusion or disorientation
- Nausea or vomiting
- Constricted (very small) pupils
- Cold and clammy skin
To help prevent your child from using fentanyl or other opioids, it is important to have open and honest conversations about drug use and the dangers of fentanyl. Encourage your child to seek help if they are struggling with substance abuse or addiction, and make sure they are aware of the resources available to them, such as rehabilitation programs, support groups, and mental health services. Don’t wait. Get help right away.
Where To Get Lifesaving Narcan
The dangers of fentanyl are significant, and as a parent, it is important to be aware of the signs of use and what to look for. If you suspect that your child is using the drug, seek help immediately. By educating yourself and your child, you can help protect them from the dangers of this powerful and super addictive substance.
If you suspect that your child is using fentanyl, it is important to seek help immediately. In cases of overdose, the drug can cause a person to stop breathing, leading to death within minutes. Naloxone, a medication that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose, can be life-saving in these situations. Parents of teen children should keep Narcan (the brand name for Naloxone) in their first aid kit at home and learn how to use it. Schools are stocking up on Narcan and are keeping it in nurses’ offices.
Free Naloxone, also known by the brand name Narcan, can be obtained from several sources. Here are a few places where people can find free Narcan:
- Pharmacies: Many pharmacies, including CVS and Walgreens, offer free Narcan without a prescription. You can call your local pharmacy to see if they participate in this program.
- Health Departments: Many local health departments, such as county health departments, provide free Narcan to those in need. You can contact your local health department for more information.
- Community Organizations: Some community organizations, such as harm reduction organizations and substance abuse treatment centers, offer free Narcan to those at risk of opioid overdose.
- Overdose Prevention Programs: Many cities and states have established overdose prevention programs that provide free Narcan to those at risk of opioid overdose.
- Online Programs: Some online programs, such as the Naloxone Distribution Partnership, offer free Narcan kits through the mail.
It is important to note that laws and availability may vary by state, so it is best to check with local organizations for more information on where to obtain free Narcan. In the event of an overdose, every second counts, so having Narcan on hand can be a lifesaving tool.Fentanyl: A Growing Threat to Public Health in the U.S.
Fentanyl, a highly potent synthetic opioid, has emerged as a major public health threat in the United States. The drug is 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine and has been linked to a growing number of overdose deaths across the country. According to nationwide statistics from 2022, the number of fentanyl-related overdose deaths has continued to rise, posing a significant challenge to public health officials and law enforcement agencies. Fentanyl is currently the number one killer of 18-to-45-year-olds, more than car accidents and COVID-19 (CDC).
The Rise Of Fentanyl
The rise of fentanyl can be traced back to the opioid epidemic, which began in the early 2000s with the widespread prescription of opioid painkillers. Over time, many people who became addicted to prescription opioids turned to cheaper and more readily available street drugs, including heroin and fentanyl. Today, fentanyl is one of the most common drugs involved in opioid overdoses, and its use has become a major contributor to the ongoing opioid crisis in the United States.
Deaths Are Increasing
In 2022, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that there were over 47,000 fentanyl-related overdose deaths in the United States, a significant increase from the previous year. This represents a staggering 67% of all opioid overdose deaths, making fentanyl the deadliest opioid in the country. The drug is particularly concerning because it is often mixed with other substances, such as cocaine and methamphetamine, increasing the risk of overdose.
The impact of fentanyl on communities across the United States has been significant. The drug is often sold on the black market and can be easily obtained, leading to widespread use and abuse. In addition, the potency of fentanyl makes it difficult to treat overdoses, and many people die within minutes of taking the drug.
What Is Being Done
In response to the growing threat of fentanyl, public health officials and law enforcement agencies have taken a number of steps to try and combat the drug’s spread. These measures include increased education and outreach efforts, improved access to addiction treatment and naloxone (a medication that can reverse an opioid overdose), and increased enforcement of laws and regulations aimed at preventing the illegal distribution of fentanyl.
Despite these efforts, the rise of fentanyl continues to pose a significant challenge to public health in the United States. To address this issue, it will be important to continue investing in education and outreach efforts, increasing access to addiction treatment, and taking steps to prevent the illegal distribution of the drug.
In addition to the growing use of illicit fentanyl, another major concern is the increasing prevalence of counterfeit pills containing the drug. These fake pills are often made to look like other prescription medications, such as Xanax or OxyContin, and are sold on the black market to unsuspecting consumers.
These counterfeit pills are particularly dangerous because they often contain unpredictable and potentially deadly amounts of fentanyl. The potency of the drug means that even a small amount can be fatal, and many people who take these fake pills are unaware of the danger they are putting themselves in.
According to nationwide statistics from 2022, the number of overdose deaths related to counterfeit pills containing fentanyl has increased dramatically in recent years. In many cases, these deaths have occurred in people who thought they were taking a different medication and were not aware that they were consuming fentanyl.
The rise of counterfeit pills containing fentanyl highlights the importance of using only medication obtained from a reputable source. It also underscores the need for continued efforts to crack down on the illegal production and distribution of these fake pills, as well as increased public education and outreach efforts aimed at raising awareness of the dangers of counterfeit drugs.
The increasing prevalence of counterfeit pills containing fentanyl is a growing public health concern in the United States. These fake pills are putting unsuspecting people at risk of overdose and death, and it is essential that steps are taken to prevent their spread and increase public awareness of the dangers they pose. To address this issue, it will be important to take a comprehensive approach that includes education, improved access to addiction treatment, and increased enforcement of laws and regulations aimed at preventing the spread of the drug.5 Things To Do If A Friend Is Overdosing
What Does An Overdose Look Like
A fentanyl overdose can have a range of symptoms, and the severity of the symptoms can depend on the amount of the drug taken, the person’s tolerance to the drug, and other factors such as their overall health. Some common signs of a fentanyl overdose include:
- Respiratory depression: One of the most dangerous effects of a fentanyl overdose is respiratory depression, which can lead to shallow breathing, slow breathing, or stopped breathing.
- Extreme drowsiness or unconsciousness: A person who has taken a large amount of fentanyl may become extremely drowsy or lose consciousness.
- Pale or blue skin: A fentanyl overdose can reduce the amount of oxygen in the bloodstream, which can cause the skin to appear pale or blue, particularly around the lips and fingernails.
- Pinpoint pupils: The pupils may become very small, a condition known as pinpoint pupils.
- Cold, clammy skin: The skin may feel cold and clammy to the touch, which can be a sign of decreased circulation.
- Slow or irregular pulse: The heartbeat may become slow or irregular, which can be a sign of cardiac problems.
- Nausea and vomiting: A person who has taken a large amount of fentanyl may experience nausea and vomiting.
- Seizures: Seizures can occur in severe cases of fentanyl overdose.
If you witness a friend who is using drugs and your friend overdoses, it is important to take immediate action to save their life.
What Should I Do
- Call for emergency medical assistance: Call 911 or your local emergency medical services immediately. An overdose can quickly become life-threatening, and it is essential to get medical treatment as soon as possible to avoid serious harm or death. Be prepared to provide the operator with the location of the overdose, the symptoms the person is experiencing, and any information about the drugs they have taken.
- Administer naloxone: If you have naloxone (also known as Narcan), a medication that can reverse an opioid overdose, administer it as directed. Naloxone is available over the counter in some jurisdictions and can be easily administered through a nasal spray or injection.
- Stay with the person: Stay with the person until emergency medical services arrive. Provide comfort and support, and try to keep them awake and alert. You are protected by the Good Samaritan laws and will not be prosecuted for helping someone. If you leave and your friend dies, you are at risk for prosecution.
- Provide information: Provide emergency medical services with any information you have about the drugs the person has taken, including the type of drug, the amount taken, and the time it was taken. This information can help emergency medical services provide the best possible treatment.
- Cooperate with emergency medical services: When emergency medical services arrive, cooperate with them to ensure the person receives the best possible care.
Will Good Samaritan Laws Protect Me
It is important to remember that Good Samaritan laws are in place to encourage individuals to assist in a medical emergency, including a drug overdose. In many jurisdictions, these laws provide immunity from prosecution for minor drug offenses, such as possession of a controlled substance, when someone calls for emergency services in response to a drug overdose.
“If you witness a fentanyl overdose, it is important to take action, provide assistance, and call for emergency medical assistance to save the life of the person in need, rather than running away from the scene.”
In some cases, if an individual runs away from the scene of an overdose and does not take any steps to provide assistance or call for help, they could face charges for the person’s death, such as manslaughter or criminal negligence.
Therefore, it is crucial to understand the specific provisions of Good Samaritan laws in your jurisdiction and to take appropriate steps to provide assistance in a medical emergency, such as a drug overdose. Running away from the scene of an overdose can increase the risk of the person dying, and it can also put you at risk of criminal prosecution. The goal of these laws is to encourage individuals to take action and provide assistance in a life-threatening situation, so it is important to not be afraid and to take appropriate steps to save the life of the person in need.
If you witness a fentanyl overdose, it is important to take action and provide assistance, or call for emergency medical assistance, to save the life of the person in need, rather than running away from the scene. Call for emergency medical assistance, administer naloxone if available, stay with the person, provide information, and cooperate with emergency medical services to ensure the best possible outcome. By taking these steps, you can help save the life of a friend and ensure they receive the care they need.