Deaths caused by fentanyl continue to plague the younger segment of the population.
As of last month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says a minimum of 70,000 deaths over one year could be attributed to synthetic opioid overdoses, including thousands of teenagers and young adults.
The Drug Enforcement Administration says upwards of 25% of pills sold as OxyContin, Percorcet or Xanax on the black market are fake and can contain enough fentanyl to kill a person. They can look like authentic pills and fentanyl can be in them without people knowing.
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Sam Didier, whose 17-year-old brother died from fentanyl after he thought he was taking painkillers, says it’s hard to always classify deaths from the opioid as an overdose.
“This is not the case of someone taking too much of a drug,” he told TODAY. “This is the case of someone being poisoned.”
So, what can parents do? Experts recommend taking multiple actions.
- It’s important to have a dialogue with kids. Talk to your children about the consequences fentanyl pills can have.
- Become aware of and versed in the language kids use when interacting on social media. Emoji and codes are often used for drugs.
- Promote drug education programs in school, similar to sex education.
Deaths connected to fentanyl have made headlines in recent years. The 21-year-old son of Christian rapper TobyMac died in 2019 from what was ruled to be an accidental overdose.
The same year, Captain Lee Rosbach, who stars on Bravo’s “Below Deck,” opened up after his son died from an overdose of counterfeit pills that contained fentanyl, cocaine and heroin.
The mother of “The Flash” star Logan Williams said her son died last year from a fentanyl overdose after he struggled with drug addiction.
“My beautiful boy is gone. 16 years old. Sheltering at home,” she wrote on Instagram. “A drug dealer connected with him on Snapchat and gave him fentinyl (sic) laced Xanax or Percocet (toxicology will tell) and he overdosed in his room. They do this because it hooks people even more and is good for business but it causes overdose and the kids don’t know what they are taking.”