College Drug Use in the Time of Fentanyl

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By: SUPE Editorial Team

College can be an exciting and fun time for many young adults. Being on your own provides a freedom that many are experiencing for the first time. As individuals establish themselves, there are different things to navigate. Social pressures, educational responsibilities, and parental expectations are just a few things adolescents face during their time in college.

One thing that is almost expected during one’s stay at college is experimenting with drugs and alcohol. While alcohol may be the substance used the most during the college experience, it most certainly isn’t the only thing. Many young adults are experimenting with other substances, and this has become increasingly dangerous with fentanyl flooding the United States.

Drug Experimenting by the Numbers

According to the UCL Social Research Institute, by the age of 17:

Engaged in Binge Drinking

Tried Cannabis

Tried Hard Drugs

This research indicates that when individuals are in college, they are in an environment where at least 1 in 10 people have used an illicit substance. So it is very likely that even if you haven’t experimented with drugs before college, you will most likely be faced with the opportunity when you are there.

Fentanyl: A Hidden Danger

People are becoming more aware of the dangers of fentanyl, but this does not always prevent people from taking it. Unlike most drugs, fentanyl isn’t just sold by itself and many people who take it are unaware they are doing so. You see, fentanyl has become a go to fuller for many illegal drug dealers.

Drug traffickers are adding fentanyl to other street drugs to increase their potency and increases their profits. Heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine, and even marijuana have been found to have traces of fentanyl. This trend is making experimenting with drugs increasingly dangerous, especially for adolescents.

Adolescent Fentanyl Deaths on the Rise

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 to 2021. Many of these deaths were individuals experimenting with drugs, some for the first time. This is happening because many of these drug overdose victims do not even know they are taking fentanyl.

Some may argue that poor decisions are to blame for these deaths, but it’s important to realize that few people are actually choosing to use fentanyl. Most do not understand the dangers of fentanyl and how they are at risk even if they do not seek the drug out directly.

Tips to Stay Safe

  • Refraining from drug use altogether is the best to ensure you are safe from the dangers of fentanyl.
  • If you do decide to drink, do not do so in excess. When drunk, you can make poor decisions, which could lead to experimenting with the wrong substance.
  • Avoid people who you know use drugs. Sometimes we give in to peer pressure when stressed or dealing with an emotional situation. If you are around people who use drugs, you might also be more tempted to use them.
  • If your friends or roommates are using drugs, try to inform them of the dangers of fentanyl. You may give them information that saves their life. If you see there are no changes with their use, change roommate. People using drugs will usually have unethical people in their environment, and you can have consequences by just being in the same environment.

Test Your Knowledge

College Drug Use in the Age of Fentanyl

What is the best way to avoid the dangers of fentanyl?

Fentanyl deaths among adolescents almost doubled from 2019-2020 and continued to raise an additional 20% from 2020-2021.

What drugs have been found to have traces of fentanyl?

10% of individuals have tried hard drugs by the age of 17.

What are some contributing factors to substance use in college?

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SUPE IS A NONPROFIT PLATFORM FUNDED AND HOSTED BY DRS. IT IS THE DRUG EDUCATION AND PREVENTION SECTION OF DRS & ADDICTED.ORG.

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