The following is excerpted from an online article posted by The Hill.
Teen overdose deaths have doubled in three years, an alarming trend amid a historic decline in drug and alcohol use among high school students.
The main reason is fentanyl. Teens consume the powerful opioid unwittingly, packaged in counterfeit pills tailored to resemble less potent prescription medications. Drug traffickers lace pills with fentanyl to boost the black-market high. Dangerously addictive, fentanyl can be lethal, especially to children experimenting with drugs.
Deaths from drug and alcohol rose from 788 in 2018 to 1755 in 2021 among children ages 15 to 19, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, tabulated by The Hill.
“Fentanyl, it’s just a different beast,” said Dr. Hoover Adger Jr., professor of pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. “And it’s so deadly. You have a milligram of fentanyl being equivalent to 50 milligrams of heroin, being equivalent to 100 milligrams of morphine. And right now, fentanyl is creeping into everything.”
Many sources point to fentanyl as the leading cause of teen overdose death. Between 2010 and 2021, the number of adolescent deaths from black-market fentanyl and related synthetics rose more than twenty-fold, from 38 to 884, according to a 2022 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association.