The Dangers of Fentonyl
January 11, 2023
With the current drug epidemic in society, people of all ages need to be educated on the extreme risk and dangers of using drugs. More recently, a specific drug called fentanyl has caused quite the buzz on the news and in local communities, causing numerous deaths in a short amount of time. This is often not the intention of the user, but almost always people are unaware that the item they are consuming is laced in fentanyl, which not only is life-threatening to them, but to those around the person using the drug as well. Due to its wide prevalence, even those who do not use drugs need to be aware of what seem to be harmless items laced in fentanyl, such as Halloween candy.
One Pill Will Kill
One pill will kill. This past Tuesday, 15 year old Melanie Ramos and her best friend Heather Wheatley overdosed on fentanyl at Bernstein High School in Hollywood. The effects on Melanie were fatal. The effects of Fentanyl on teenagers are highly unpredictable, and have ended in death. “Fentanyl is involved in 90% of all deaths involved with opioids” (Department of Health).
Melanie and Heather thought they purchased Percocet pills, yet little did they know it was laced with fentanyl. It takes 2 milligrams of Fentanyl to become potentially lethal. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, “It is possible for someone to take a pill without knowing it contains fentanyl. It is also possible to take a pill knowing it contains fentanyl, but with no way of knowing if it contains a lethal dose” (DEA). Yet, how did two 15 year old girls get drugs? There are multiple suspects, including, a 15 year old boy who attends the same school as the other two girls. He has been taken into custody and charged with manslaughter. Another suspect is another 16 year old who is accused of selling the fentanyl laced Percocet to the two teens in the first place.
The girls were found on the school property. Melanie was found in the bathroom and Heather was found on the field, calling for help. Heather’s mother’s boyfriend went looking after her mother could not come in contact with her for hours after the school day ended. “’They didn’t take the initiative to have someone walk across the campus or go to the bathroom. They were laying on the cold floor for five hours in a high school,’ ” said Wheatley (Heather’s Father)” (FOXLA).
Drugs are no joke, and lethal situations like this can happen to anyone. A friend, a family member, drugs affects us all in different ways, but there are ways to prevent this. You can do this by: keeping strong relationships, taking mental health breaks, and communication. This may sound repetitive, but it really does help. Many families have been affected by drugs and many more will be affected. “It’s only a matter of time before it happens again,” says Wheatley. “If it happened to my daughter, it can happen to anyone’s child” (FOXLA). Many children who are suffering severe anxiety and depression often struggle with drug and alcohol abuse. “Depression is common among people battling an addiction to drugs or alcohol. Substance abuse can trigger or intensify the feelings of loneliness, sadness and hopelessness often associated with depression.” (Addiction Center).
Just remember, you are not alone. There are people to help you. Friends, family, teachers, and guidance counselors are all there to help you through difficult times. “There are your friends and family that care about you and would be deeply hurt if something would happen, and how there is always someone who will care and help you through tough times, you are not alone” says Megan Wang (9). This is correct. Your peers, family members, and teachers are there for you no matter what so do not feel afraid to reach out to them.
Spooky Season and Fentanyl
Fentanyl, a highly toxic opioid that can kill instantly – but what is it? According to the CDC, the original purpose of fentanyl, which is a synthetic opioid, was to treat severe pain (cdc.gov). Typically, this drug is used to treat severe pain caused by cancer. Over the years, however, illegally-made fentanyl has hit the streets of the world. Oftentimes, it is-unknowingly to the user-mixed with heroin or cocaine to increase the euphoric high. Fentanyl is known to be 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine.
What does this have to do with the beloved Spooky Season of Halloween? The DEA, or the Drug Enforcement Agency, warns parents of an influx of laced pills and candies that are being handed out to kids as they are trick or treating. Mrs. Ward (Staff) expresses her concern about this, saying “My husband and I actually did have this discussion, and my first reaction was [to not] go trick or treating this year. But, my husband thought that was a little too strict, so, in the end, we decided that we would go. Usually, they could kind of trick or treat and eat as they go, but we are not letting them eat any of the candy before we go through it all. That’s the happy medium that we could find.
it causes a lot of concern as a high school teacher that some of my own students could be affected by this.”
— Mrs. Ward (S)
With more and more of this illegal substance finding its way into schools, neighborhoods, and homes, many are starting to fear what could possibly happen to their communities in the near future. “I think it is really scary, actually. It breaks my heart, first as a mother, that I have to worry about that. But really, it causes a lot of concern as a high school teacher that some of my own students could be affected by this,” shares Mrs. Ward (Staff).
During Halloween, parents are advised to be more careful of allowing their kids to eat open candies, such as lollipops and jolly ranchers, that are not sealed packages. Teenagers are also advised to read labels and understand the potential dangers that can stem from taking this potent substance.
From 2019-2020, the number of fentanyl-related overdoses increased by 56%. This rate is eighteen higher than in 2013. So, what can be done to prevent it? Having naloxone, also known as Narcan, on hand can save lives, and spreading awareness of the rapid-rising deaths caused by this drug are both methods that can be used to try and stop the overdoses. With all the tragedies and harm it brings, fentanyl is a drug that should never be messed with.