Over 150 people die every day from overdoses related to synthetic opioids like fentanyl. The problem is that illicit drugs don’t come with an ingredient list. Many contain deadly doses of this potential opioid leading to fentanyl poisoning.
This is dangerous for teenagers and other vulnerable populations taking illicit drugs and ending up with a drug overdose due to these high unexpected doses of fentanyl.
See more in the article below about the drug fentanyl, how it works, and more about teen addiction to fentanyl.
What Is Fentanyl?
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine. You will find fentanyl in two forms in the market – pharmaceutical fentanyl and illicit fentanyl.
When you have severe pain after surgery or during advanced-stage cancer, you might get prescribed fentanyl by medical professionals to help with that.
Unfortunately, illicitly manufactured fentanyl (IMF) is the reason for all the overdoses, and it’s usually sold through illegal-drug markets because of its heroin-like effect. Moreover, since it’s so potent, it is attractive to drug sellers.
They can add fentanyl to other drugs to make them more potent and save money. This makes illegal drugs cheaper to produce but also much more harmful and disastrous.
What It Looks Like and What It’s Called
You can find Illicitly manufactured fentanyl (IMF) in powder and liquid form.
The powdered form looks a lot like other opioids like heroin and morphine. It is commonly mixed in with other drugs and then made into pills that resemble prescription drugs, the only problem being that these pills are much more potent and dangerous than prescription drugs.
In liquid form, IMF can be found in eye drops, nasal sprays, and dropped onto paper or small candies.
There are many street names for IMF to be aware of:
- China Girl
- China Town
- China White
- Dance Fever
- Great Bear
- Murder 8
- Tango & Cash
Knowledge is power. The more you can learn about fentanyl and its forms, the easier it will be to spot when your teenager is taking a specific drug and what its effect will be on them and protect them from an overdose if it comes to that.
Why Are Fentanyl Overdoses Rising Suddenly?
The problem is that when teenagers and other drug addicts pick up a pill of ecstasy or something else from a drug dealer (like a person they know in the parking lot of a grocery store), they don’t see that it is laced with fentanyl.
They think that they are taking a pill of ecstasy. But the drug dealers, in their greedy efforts to make more money from their sales, will add fentanyl to the tablet to make it more potent and save them money.
The teenager takes the pill expecting to get a specific result, but due to the fentanyl in the pill might end up dead because of the overdose.
The problem with fentanyl is that it’s not a drug you can experiment with and try to recover from. It’s such a dangerous drug that you take it once, and you’re dead before you know it.
There are dozens of stories online of parents who lost their teenage sons and daughters to this drug overdose because the teenager had no idea that the pill they were taking even had fentanyl.
Signs of Fentanyl Overdose
Drug addicts, especially their caretakers, need to be aware of what an opioid overdose looks like. This knowledge can mean the difference between saving someone from a fentanyl overdose or not.
- Small, constricted “pinpoint pupils”
- Limp body
- Cold or clammy skin
- Falling asleep or losing consciousness
- Slow, weak, or no breathing
- Discolored skin (especially lips and nails)
- Choking or gurgling sounds
If you are taking a drug that is supposed to have more stimulating effects, but you end up with the opposite signs above, then you know that it might be due to an opioid like fentanyl that the drug was laced with.
What To Do When You Notice Someone Having an Overdose
Of course, you would prefer it if your teenager wasn’t taking drugs and harming themselves in this fashion. But if this is already the case, you will want to know what to do if your teenager overdoses on fentanyl or some other illicit drug.
The first step is always to call 911 asap. You don’t want to delay this since every second counts in an overdose.
Don’t worry about legal consequences!!
Most states have laws to protect the person who is overdosing and the person who called for help from legal troubles.
Getting your teenager the medical help they need right now is more important.
If you have been reading up on overdoses and teenage drug addiction, you might have naloxone on hand already. Administer it immediately.
First Aid Measures
Keep the person awake and breathing because that’s the first thing affected during an opioid overdose – the person’s breathing weakens or stops altogether. So do what you can to keep them talking to you and conscious, at least until emergency services arrive.
Also, put them on their side so you can prevent choking.
Do not leave the person’s side for even a second. Instead, make sure you stay with them until emergency services arrive. You must do this to help them stay awake and aware.
You might feel unqualified or terrified that you aren’t doing the right thing, especially in a serious situation. But as long as you have called 911 and kept them awake, you already do a lot.
Emergency services will arrive quickly and ensure that your overdosing teenager will be given the help they need, so they can recover from this terrible incident and not get a death sentence because of it.
How to Protect Your Teenagers From Fentanyl Overdoses?
A deadly drug, it should be treated with more care. But don’t feel like all hope is lost if your teenager takes drugs and you don’t know if it’s laced with fentanyl.
Of course, the American government is doing everything possible to crack down on this insurgence of fentanyl overdoses in recent years.
Fentanyl Test Strips
But a more on-the-ground harm reduction measure everyone can take is using fentanyl test strips. These strips are cheap and effective. And they give results within five minutes, so you aren’t waiting forever before you know.
These can be handed out to people using drugs. Or you can purchase this for your loved one who is a drug addict.
Your child can test their drugs or pills for fentanyl before consuming or ingesting the drug. If your teenager knows that their drug has fentanyl, they can avoid taking that batch of drugs to prevent an overdose.
Or they can take less to ensure that they don’t overdose.
Undertaking this change of behavior is better than ending up dead because they had no idea about the fentanyl present in their drugs.
One note of caution, though: these test strips don’t detect more potent fentanyl-like drugs (carfentanil). That’s why you can’t rely entirely upon them to protect yourself from overdoses. But they are a great start to reducing the harm that fentanyl poisoning causes.
And there’s naloxone as well. This is a drug sold under the brand name Narcan among others.
Naloxone helps reverse the decreased breathing that happens during an opioid overdose. This reversal of the effects of opioids like fentanyl can help save teenage lives.
Having it on hand is so helpful both for parents and for the drug addicts themselves. For example, if you notice that your teenager is feeling the effects of fentanyl poisoning, you can give them naloxone immediately and prevent overdose or death.
It can be intravenously injected into a muscle, taking 2 minutes to work in the former and 5 minutes in the latter. This kind of fast response is precisely what you need when you have a deadly drug like fentanyl taking over someone’s bodily system.
Naloxone is available in all 50 states and can be purchased from a local pharmacy without a prescription in most states, a life-saving drug that every drug addict or their caretakers should have on hand.
Addicts Slip, That’s Understandable: Protect Them Nevertheless
If your teenager or loved one is an addict, you might need to accept the fundamental truth that they will slip up from time to time. However, this doesn’t make them weak or terrible people.
Modern illicit drugs are dozens of times more potent than in the past and highly addictive just after one or two doses. So it’s not their fault sometimes that they can’t resist the urge.
But the main issue here is that, at least with other drugs like heroin or cocaine, the verdict isn’t death due to overdose in many cases. But fentanyl overdoses are becoming so commonplace among teenagers because they had no idea in the first place that their drug even contained this dangerous drug.
One thing you can do to help your teenagers is to talk to them about this dangerous drug on the market. And the dangers of fentanyl overdosing.
You can also have harm reduction measures, like fentanyl test strips and naloxone.
Finally, if you feel like you have done enough, but nothing’s working, putting them into rehab might be a solution.
Talk to Your Teenager About Fentanyl Poisoning
Ensure you talk with your teenager about fentanyl overdoses and why they are so dangerous. Be clear about the risk they are undertaking when taking illicit drugs, but don’t be judgemental about it.
Make the conversation a judgment-free zone so you can be open and honest with them.
Speak about the scientific facts, studies, and research on fentanyl overdoses to inform them of the dire reality. Talk to them about fentanyl overdoses, their symptoms, and why using fentanyl test strips is essential.
Also, tell them to look out for their friends so that they can keep a watch out for someone who’s in trouble.
Fentanyl is odorless, so you can’t tell if it’s present in a pill.
Tell them that no matter where they are getting their drugs from, be it a friend or someone they are close to, they have no idea what the drug was cut with, what other illicit drugs it contains or is laced with, and what the dosage is like.
It’s not like drug dealers are the most discerning or reliable of folks. Just because they say they sold them ecstasy pills doesn’t mean that is the entire truth. Also, the person who sold them the drugs might not be who made them, so there’s no knowing exactly what it contains.
Having a clear conversation about all this will ensure your teenager is at least a bit more informed than before. And you can feel like you are at least doing something rather than waiting for disaster to strike.
Choosing a Rehab Centre for Teenagers
When trying to help your teenager with their drug addiction, you can try and go at it alone. But that will only take you so far.
Preventing fentanyl poisoning should also include picking a solid rehab center that’s made for adolescents.
Eagle Overlook Recovery for Adolescents is Georgia’s top-rated drug addiction treatment center. We work on both drug addiction and mental health issues in males and females aged 13 to 18.
We offer psychiatric and medical care, outdoor activities, psycho-education, counseling, and more to help your teenager recover. Contact us to learn more about our programs.