Fentanyl is one of those prominent drugs in the public’s consciousness right now. The conversation around the rise of fentanyl tends to get political or divisive, which distracts from the core issue. That issue is that fentanyl is deadly, it is prevalent, and its use is becoming highly common among the adolescent population.
Fentanyl is enormously dangerous, full stop. It is also quickly making its way into the vulnerable younger population, often combined unknowingly with other substances. However, unlike some other street drugs, even a little bit of this drug can be deadly. We’re talking a “fingernail” amount here.
It is because of this reality that we must educate ourselves and our children not just on the dangers of fentanyl, but on the fact that engaging in other substances can also mean unwittingly engaging in fentanyl use. There is also a subsection of kids who specifically seek out fentanyl because of its extreme potency. For these individuals, it is critical that they get the addiction help that they need sooner rather than later.
The Statistical Truth About Fentanyl
The National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has long been collecting data regarding opioid overdose deaths in the United States. The data is rather alarming, to say the least.
Since the rise in fentanyl use, this agency has also begun collecting data on overdose deaths specifically related to fentanyl. The NCHS reported that “Overall, drug overdose deaths rose from 2019 to 2021 with more than 106,000 drug overdose deaths reported in 2021. Deaths involving synthetic opioids other than methadone (primarily fentanyl) continued to rise with 70,601 overdose deaths reported in 2021.”
On top of that, as the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are becoming more apparent, those numbers are expected to be significantly higher. This is especially true for younger people who experienced heightened levels of isolation and lack of positive interaction with friends, teachers, and mentors.
The Truth About Fentanyl and Young People
According to a 2022 report from the CDC, the “Median monthly overdose deaths among persons aged 10–19 years (adolescents) increased 109% from July – December 2019 to July – December 2021; deaths involving illicitly manufactured fentanyls (IMFs) increased 182%. Approximately 90% of deaths involved opioids and 84% involved IMFs.”
Let that last statistic sink in. A full 84% of all overdose deaths in the adolescent population involved some form of fentanyl. That is a harrowing number.
Going back to 2017, the United States President and the Surgeon General declared an opioid crisis in this country. Yet, the problem continues to worsen. One of the reasons for this is that manufacturers and suppliers of fentanyl have begun incorporating it into other illicit drugs. They do this for two reasons. One, it is cheaper, because they can use less to produce the “same result.” Two, it helps create return customers by speeding up the addiction process.
The “Unaware” Factor Regarding Fentanyl
Drug syndicates and drug dealers are preying on our kids like never before. They are knowingly putting fentanyl, one of the most deadly opiates on the market, into other drugs hoping to get people “hooked” and coming back. And, guess what? When this doesn’t happen, and a child overdoses or even dies, they couldn’t care less.
It is easy for us to forget as adults the types of risky behaviors we engaged in as adolescents. Without a second thought, we jumped into something (such as substance experimentation) that we would never dream of doing today. There is a biological reason for this. The human brain isn’t even fully developed until our mid to late 20s, specifically the part that regulates responsible decision-making (the pre-frontal cortex).
Therefore, it is important to understand that teenagers sometimes make risky decisions that they don’t even have the brain capabilities to comprehend. This is all the more reason to be vigilant and knowledgeable regarding all illicit drug use that our children may be engaging in. The truth is that substance use in the United States is more dangerous than ever.
Some Treatment Options for Substance Use Disorder
There are of course instances where adolescent substance abuse goes unchecked, unnoticed, and under the radar. When this happens, it is imperative to get the child recovery help sooner than later.
The good news is that there are a lot of evidence-based effective treatment options for adolescents who are struggling with substance use disorder (SUD). These options include group therapy, psychotherapy, neuroscientific treatments, and on top of that, some holistic and spiritual practices that can bolster the other more clinical forms of recovery.
When it comes to fentanyl use, it is time to drop all of the baggage that comes with the name. Because there are only two things that matter when it comes down to it. Our child’s safety, and, if needed, our child’s recovery.
Fentanyl has become a serious problem for most populations across the United States. However, this is especially true within the adolescent population. Due to the younger population’s lack of brain development and life experience, there is a tendency to engage in risky behavior. This sometimes includes engaging in illicit drug use. While this is of course dangerous on the whole, it is particularly dangerous now that a drug as deadly as fentanyl has become more readily available. One of the scarier aspects of this drug is that many times a child is unaware they are even using it, as it has become commonplace to be incorporated into other street drugs. Contact Elk Mountain Girls Academy at (888) 403-0346 for more information.