As overdose rates skyrocket across the country, everyone is becoming more familiar with the substance fentanyl, a deadly opiate that is responsible for a large percentage of these overdose deaths. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is 50-100 times stronger than morphine. The scary thing about fentanyl is that it is often added to other illicit substances to increase their potency. Drugs like heroin, cocaine, and meth are spiked with fentanyl, and unsuspecting users are dying.
Experimenting with Drugs is Nothing New
Experimentation with drugs is something that many young adults do. As individuals grow older and get more freedom, they are more open to trying things they would never consider in their early teens. While many begin with using alcohol and marijuana, some experiment with harder drugs.
Whether it’s boredom or curiosity, the reasoning for this experimentation can be due to several different things, but there is no denying that it is happening. A UCL Social Research Institute report claims that 10% of children have tried hard drugs by age 17. This statistic may not be all that surprising, and the idea that teenagers are using drugs is not shocking. But what is alarming is the threat many young, unsuspecting teenagers face.
Adolescent Fentanyl Deaths on the Rise
This 10% of children who have experimented with hard drugs, where fentanyl is rampant, are in grave danger, and many are ignorant of the fact. This is evident when you look at recent research. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, fentanyl deaths among adolescents almost doubled from 2019 to 2020. This fatality rate continued to rise an additional 20% from 2020-2021.
Before the days of fentanyl, drug experimenting was a learning experience for many young adults. They would try something they knew they weren’t supposed to, and it would be a sort of rush of its own. While tragedies did occur, a lot of experimentation ended with the realization, “I am never doing that again!”. This unspoken rite of passage wasn’t encouraged, but it was there, and for many, it was a short phase of what would eventually be a long and healthy life.
Now there is fentanyl, but the problem is no one knows where.
Fentanyl is Killing Unsuspecting Teens
While fentanyl is sold by itself, there have been traces of fentanyl found in heroin, cocaine, meth, and even marijuana. There are even fentanyl pills that are pressed to look like other legitimate prescription drugs. Young adults are being solicited these drugs online via social media, and many are dying. While poor decision-making may play a role in these tragedies, it is imperative to understand that this happens to children and younger adults who are actively deceived by drug dealers looking to profit.
Bad Choices Shouldn’t be Fatal Ones
The poor decisions that many individuals make would not be deadly if they took the drug they believed they were. For example, a 16-year-old died after taking a Xanax he bought from someone on Snapchat. The pill was fake and laced with fentanyl. While taking a benzo unprescribed is unhealthy, it would be very rare for one Xanax pill to kill someone.
Poor decisions are being made under false pretenses, causing people to lose their lives. Experimenting with drugs has evolved. It is no longer a rite of passage or a phase. It is a game of Russian roulette. The best weapon to combat this is drug education. This can prevent the use of these illicit substances, so the chances of encountering fentanyl in any form are minimal.