Typically, fentanyl is prescribed to manage severe pain. People may take it illicitly because it produces heroin-like effects like extreme relaxation and euphoria. Fentanyl’s brand names include Sublimaze, Actiq and Duragesic; on the street, it may be referred to as Apache, China girl, Goodfellas, hillbilly heroin, Murder 8 or Tango & Cash.
Prescription fentanyl is available in the form of a pill. It is also illegally sold as a white powder that is often unknowingly added to other drugs like heroin, methamphetamine and cocaine. Fentanyl makes these substances stronger and more addictive for less money, with the user none the wiser.
The danger of fentanyl is its extreme potency: it is up to 100 times stronger than morphine. This means that even a tiny amount of the drug can trigger an overdose. Fentanyl and other synthetic opioids were involved in more than 60% of drug overdose deaths in 2020.
If you notice changes in your teen, take note. Drug use can cause kids to withdraw from family and friends or abandon responsibilities and activities. If you think your child may be using, keep an eye out for overdoses. Opioid overdoses can lead to several telltale signs, such as very small pupils, slow breathing, choking, clammy skin or loss of consciousness.
If you suspect a fentanyl overdose, call 911 right away. Administering Narcan (naloxone) may help reverse the effects of an overdose, but multiple doses may be needed because of fentanyl’s strength. Try to keep the person awake and roll them onto their side to prevent their airway from becoming blocked.
Do your best to talk with your kids about the dangers of using fentanyl. Try to help them understand that they may be ingesting fentanyl when they think they’re using other drugs and that even a single dose of a fentanyl-laced drug can be deadly.
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