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Youth and Fentanyl and Opioid Addiction: What Parents Need to Know

Dangers of Fentanyl and Opioid Addiction in Teens and Young Adults

Fentanyl and opioid abuse by teens and young adults have tragic results. One in five young adult deaths in 2015 involved opioids, including fentanyl. Early intervention can be crucial to your child’s long-term recovery, according to studies.

Understanding the symptoms of fentanyl abuse is crucial for adults to be equipped to help teens. 

According to a U.S. government data analysis, fentanyl overdoses are now the leading cause of death for adults between the ages of 18 and 45.

Fentanyl can be fatal even in very small amounts. The danger is that it is being added to heroin, meth and even marijuana. People are therefore taking the drug without knowing, leading to an increasing number of overdose cases. 

According to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), the primary routes by which fentanyl enters the United States are China and Mexico.

  • Fentanyl is a manufactured synthetic opioid. It is a prescription medication that is fifty to one hundred times more potent than other painkillers like morphine.
  • In the United States, counterfeit prescription pills are becoming more common. Drug enforcement officers seized more counterfeit pills in 2021 than in the previous two years combined.
  • Fentanyl in high concentrations is found in an increasing number of these counterfeit pills. The repercussions are fatal.
  • Deaths caused by fentanyl and other synthetic opioids increased by more than one-hundred percent between 2013 and 2019.
  • Fentanyl cannot be purchased in capsule form when prescribed by a physician. Instead, it is available as a shot, lozenge, or patch for the skin.

Illegal fentanyl is sold as:

  • pills
  • eye drops 
  • nasal spray
  • powder which can be snorted or sprinkled on blotter paper 
  • pills resembling candy

What is Rainbow Fentanyl?

Rainbow fentanyl is another name for the brightly colored pills, powders and blocks of fentanyl that look like candy. This is an effort to hide the drug when trafficking.

The main danger here is not children mistaking them for candy, but for children mistaking them for drugs that they feel are ‘safe,’ such as Xanax, Adderall or Percocet. Of course, none of those drugs are safe if not prescribed, but they are certainly not as dangerous as fentanyl.

Parents need to be vigilant in reminding children not to take pills from anyone.

Teenagers today face a unique array of distractions and temptations. A teen’s ability to cope with day-to-day life can easily be overwhelmed by hormonal changes, school and peer pressure and the seemingly endless online world.

Young people are at a high risk of engaging in activities that involve substance abuse because of these factors as well as their easy access to alcohol and drugs.

Over 20% of high school seniors have used prescription opioids for recreational purposes, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Opioid addiction can quickly take over a teenager’s life due to the extremely high potential for addiction to these drugs.

What Parents Need to Know About Opioid and Fentanyl Addiction

Teens’ ability to deal with conflict, whether internal or external, is significantly influenced by their home environments that are characterized by drug abuse, mental illness or conflict. Addiction is more likely to develop in a teen because of each of these factors.

Fentanyl is often distributed to users as hallucinogens, amphetamines and benzodiazepines. Although less uncommon, there have been some confirmed cases of people overdosing on fentanyl while smoking marijuana.

Access to Opioids and Fentanyl 

Teens’ increased use of fentanyl may be connected to other emerging issues such as suicide rates and mental health issues. Teens these days are using a number of THC products, which can lead to using other drugs as well.

The rise in fentanyl use is influenced by its price and availability. The production of fentanyl is much less expensive than that of other hard drugs.

Dealers may mix fentanyl with other drugs due to its low cost of production. Fentanyl is most frequently combined with heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine in its powdered form. The drug dealers also make pills to look like Oxycontin, Percocet, Vicodin, Adderall or Xanax.

Teens usually get opioids from friends or family members. Despite the dangers, many children and adolescents are legally prescribed opioid pain relievers following surgery or sports injuries. Prescription opioids are frequently used by adolescents for a variety of reasons, including the desire to get high, relieve pain or as a false sense of security.

The signs of addiction and how to recognize them

Your child’s signs of fentanyl or opioid use are similar to those of other drug use and include:

  • severe mood swings 
  • extreme irritability
  • changes in behavior or habits
  • falling asleep or nodding off
  • shakiness
  • diarrhea
  • nausea

Call 911 or visit an emergency room if you think your child is using fentanyl or another opioids. Parents should request a drug screen that includes fentanyl and opioids.

Prevention Strategies for Parents

Educating Teens on the Dangers of Opioids and Fentanyl

The D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) programs and “Just Say No” campaigns of the 1980s and 1990s failed to prevent drug use, according to a number of studies. Instead of solely focusing on drugs, educational campaigns and curriculum should place a greater emphasis on teens decision-making abilities.

Drug Paraphernalia 

Drug paraphernalia are the items used to conceal or consume drugs. It’s important for parents to be aware of what these items are and what to look for. These things could be in a child’s backpack, car or bedroom.

Things to look for:

  • cigarette packages 
  • plastic baggies 
  • electronic cigarettes or vapes
  • small glass vials 
  • pill bottles 
  • candy or gum wrappers  
  • belts 
  • felt tip lipstick 
  • marker dispensers 

Seeking Treatment for Opioid Addiction

Opioid addiction treatment is often a teen’s only option for overcoming their addiction. To stop using opioids or fentanyl on your own is going to be very difficult due to how uncomfortable it is.

Fortunately, there are a variety of opioid addiction treatments for teens that provide the necessary support and direction to help them recover from addiction.

 What Treatments are available?

A number of behavioral-based interventions are used in addiction treatment programs, such as:

  • Drug education 
  • Counseling 
  • Relapse prevention training 
  • Peer-based support groups 
  • Group therapy 
  • Individual psychotherapy

Outpatient Treatment

In some cases, outpatient treatment programs offer the level of support teens need to recover. This type of treatment allows the teen to attend groups or individual therapy sessions while attending school and remaining at home.

One of the biggest challenges is that it is difficult for teens to change habits and routines while staying in the same environment. 

Inpatient Treatment

Many teens who abuse drugs require inpatient or residential treatment. These intensive programs give teens the time away and space they need to work on their recovery and instill new habits and routines.

Treatment takes place day-in and day-out in a highly structured setting. Many people require medically assisted detox which is best done under the close supervision of a medical team. 

Get Help Today

If you or a loved one are struggling with fentanyl or opioid addiction, please get in touch with Luxe Recovery today. There are various treatment options which our knowledgeable admissions team can discuss with you.

Luxe Recovery offers a world class substance abuse and mental health treatment program to our clients as they make a commitment to overcome their addiction and live a fulfilling life of sobriety.

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