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Parent’s Guide to Fentanyl

Marcel Gemme By Marcel Gemme | Last Updated: 3 March 2023
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There is a significant risk for today’s generation because of fentanyl. It is a deadly hidden threat. Fentanyl-laced drugs are extremely dangerous, and the average person is unaware their drugs are laced with fentanyl. Parents, guardians, educators, and anyone responsible for children must rely on drug prevention education to safeguard children and teens from this growing threat.

What You'll Learn

Preventing Fentanyl Use

Since fentanyl is commonly added to illicit drugs, the best way to prevent fentanyl use is to avoid using all drugs. An effective way to do this is through communication and education. As a parent or guardian, how you approach drug education goes a long way in how your children apply it.

Regarding fentanyl, drug education should focus on online safety, how deadly the drug is, and how it is often undetectable.

Tips For Parents

A parent and a guardian speaking honestly with their kids about choices and risky behaviors.

Speak honestly with your kids about choices and risky behaviors.

A parent and a guardian being clear and consistent about family rules, boundaries, and guidelines.

Be clear and consistent about family rules, boundaries, and guidelines.

A parent or a guardian listening and respecting their children's opinions without judgment.

Listen to what they have to say, respect their opinions, and do not be judgmental.

A parent or a guardian encouraging positive friendships.

Encourage positive friendships and encourage them to find things that interest them.

A parent or a guardian educating their child about online safety and safe healthy social media use.

Educate them about online safety and safe and healthy social media use.

A parent and a guardian creating safe spaces for their children to ask questions about drugs.

Create a safe space for them to ask questions. Never make them feel wrong for wanting to know more about drugs.

A parent or a guardian helping their child learn and correct their wrong beliefs when necessary.

Correct wrong beliefs they may have with factual information. Help them learn, don't just lecture.

A parent or a guardian staying informed about current drug trends.

Stay educated on current drug trends so you can teach your children.

What is Fentanyl?

Icon used to show how Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid

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.

Icon used to show how Fentanyl is a powerful drug

Fentanyl is a Powerful Drug

Reports show that fentanyl can be 50x more potent than heroin and 100x more powerful than morphine.

Icon used to show how Fentanyl is deadly.

Fentanyl is Deadly

According to the CDC, synthetic opioids like fentanyl are responsible for over 150 deaths every day.

How are Kids Getting Fentanyl?

Today’s teens have the easiest drug access because of the internet and social media. Illegal drugs are sold to teens via social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Tik Tok or Snapchat. 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

Icon showing the different things that can come out from a phone

Drug dealers use social media apps for advertising and selling their products. Prospective buyers use the apps and can easily search for drugs using codewords, emojis, hashtags, and other means. Drug traffickers also advertise using posts and stories; as quickly as accounts are shut down, a new one takes its place.

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 disturbing trend becomes even worse when you realize that the majority of the drug bought this way are usually tainted with fentanyl. Unsuspecting adolescents who think they are experimenting with a non-lethal drug are in grave danger.

Why Fentanyl is Hard to Avoid

While fentanyl is sold by itself, it is very rarely sought out by kids looking to experiment with drugs. Unfortunately,  many individuals who aren’t trying to use fentanyl end up in contact with it. This is because it is used as an additive to many illicit drugs. 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. Adolescents who are experimenting with drugs are becoming more and more at risk.

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.

Graph of Fentanyl Deaths Among Adolescents in 2019, 2020 and 2021.

Additional Fentanyl Resources for Parents

Helpful Articles

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention logo

The Facts About Fentanyl

An article from the CDC that speaks to the dangers of Fentanyl.

U.S. Justice Department, Drug Enforcement Administration logo

One Pill Can Kill

An article from the DEA that discusses the risk of fake prescription pills.

National Institutes of Health logo

Fentanyl Drug Facts

Information about Fentanyl from the National Institutes of Health.

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Contributors to this Article

Marcel Gemme has been helping people struggling with addiction for over 19 years. He first started as an intake counselor for a drug rehabilitation center in 2000. During his 5 years as an intake counselor, he helped many addicts get the treatment they needed. He also dealt with the families and friends of those people; he saw first-hand how much strain addiction puts on a family and how it can tear relationships apart. With drug and alcohol problems constantly on the rise in the United States and Canada, he decided to use the Internet as a way to educate and help many more people in both those countries. This was 15 years ago. Since then, Marcel has built two of the largest websites in the U.S. and Canada which reach and help millions of people each year. He is an author and a leader in the field of drug and alcohol addiction. His main focus is threefold: education, prevention and rehabilitation. To this day, he still strives to be at the forefront of technology in order to help more and more people. He is a Licensed Drug and Alcohol Treatment Specialist graduate with Honours of Stratford Career Institute. Marcel has also received a certificate from Harvard for completing a course entitled The Opioid Crisis in America and a certificate from The University of Adelaide for completing a course entitled AddictionX: Managing Addiction: A Framework for Succesful Treatment.

Michael Leach

Medical Reviewer

Michael Leach is a Certified Clinical Medical Assistant, who has over 5 years of experience working in the field of addiction. He spent his career working under the board-certified Addictionologist Dr. Rohit Adi. His experience includes working with families during their loved one’s stay in treatment, helping those with substance abuse issues find treatment, and teaching life skills to patients in a recovery atmosphere. Though he has worked in many different areas of rehabilitation, the majority of his time was spent working one on one with patients who were actively withdrawing from drugs. Withdrawal and the fear of going through it is one biggest reason why an addict continues to use and can be the most difficult part of the rehabilitation process. His experience in the withdrawal atmosphere has taught him that regardless of what approach a person takes to get off drugs, there are always mental and emotional obstacles that need to be overcome. He believes having someone there to help a person through these obstacles can make all the difference during the withdrawal process.

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