Rise in Fentanyl Overdose



The difference between real and fake pills is getting harder to notice.

Tatum Louthan, Social Media Editor

There has been a recent rise in drug abuse within teens in the US, specifically a very powerful opioid called fentanyl. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is 50 times more powerful than heroin. This drug is normally prescribed by doctors who are experienced in treating pain in cancer patients, and should only be prescribed to patients with cancer and in small amounts. 

However, since the drug is cheap to manufacture in large amounts it makes it easy to get a lot of it for a very little cost. Illegally-made fentanyl is often added to other counterfeit pills such as heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine and is often distributed through illegal drug markets. Most fake pills that have fentanyl laced in them look exactly like the pills you think you’re buying, making it almost impossible to know if you are getting a real pill or a laced one. As a result of this, people can be accidentally injecting or taking fentanyl and end up being seriously harmed. Ingesting a small amount of fentanyl can lead to a life threatening overdose. Overdose deaths have increased 56% from 2019 to 2020, and the overdose rates of synthetic opioids are 18 times higher than they were in 2013.  A large percent of the rise in overdose deaths is within teens and young adults.

 There has been a huge epidemic of teen drug use in the past few years, and with this problem becoming bigger there is a question arising: Should schools keep an emergency supply of naloxone, better known as Narcan? Naloxone is a medication that can reverse the effects of fentanyl if taken in  a small amount. The medication will not always work if a large amount of fentanyl is in the system. Schools have talked about having a supply of Narcan incase of emergencies, and some schools have had Narcan provided to them. Some schools in Oregon such as Sherwood, and West Linn-Wilsonville have Narcan for every grade level. Beaverton, Hillsboro, and MESD have it in the middle and high school levels. Insurance will cover the cost of Narcan in Oregon, and under the Good Samaritan law anyone can administer Narcan to save someone’s life.