IIn late August, the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) released a file Warning to the public To search for an “alarming emerging trend”: colored tablets and powders from versions The effective opioid fentanyl, better known as “rainbow fentanyl”. “This trend appears to be a new way for drug cartels to sell addictive and potentially deadly fentanyl and made to look like candy to children and young adults,” the agency said.
While fentanyl is life-threatening for young adults—especially if they don’t know they’re taking it—some drug experts warn that focusing only on the rainbow version may block out other drugs that are just as dangerous. Here’s what you need to know about rainbow fentanyl, and how to protect yourself and your children.
Focusing on rainbow fentanyl can be misleading
Illicitly manufactured fentanyl is very dangerous in any color, and some drug experts fear being too focused on the dangers posed by rainbow fentanyl. Children get pills, and some die from it. “It’s quite a distraction,” says Dean Sjold, co-founder of the nonprofit organization FentCheck, which provides fentanyl test strips and drug education.
Another problem is that the DEA has not revealed evidence that the colors are specifically intended to attract children. Fentanyl has been in color for years, and some research she has have found This color is one of the ways illicit drug users are identified efficacy of medicines. “It actually keeps them safe, because they know what they’re getting for each color,” says Jon E. Zibbell, senior public health analyst at RTI International, a nonprofit research institute that promotes science-based solutions to public health issues.
If a substance is marketed as a prescription pill such as oxycodone or Xanax, Teenagers and other young people Dr. Scott E. Hadland, MD, a pediatrician and addiction specialist at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, says those who abuse the drug may not realize it contains fentanyl. The Supply of illegal drugs In the United States it is extremely dangerous, in part because substances sold as a single drug may contain a mixture of other drugs, including dangerous substances such as animal tranquilizers. xylazine and benzodiazepines. This randomization raises the odds of an overdose due to the combined effects of the drugs, as well as the possibility that a person would consume a very strong dose of opiate.
Hadland worries that the multicolored fentanyl could make it “more exciting” for young adults. But he says, “Fentanyl is already ubiquitous in the market. I don’t know this is going to be something new that attracts teens who haven’t used it before.”
Children are already at risk for fentanyl
Over the past few years, the number of annual overdose deaths among 14- to 18-year-olds in the United States has risen from about 490 in 2019 to about 950 in 2020, according to the Analytics Posted in gamma in April. An increasing proportion of adolescent deaths include fentanyl overdose. The drug was implicated in more than two-thirds of overdose deaths in 2021.
It’s also common for manufacturers to pressure fentanyl to look like prescription drugs, says Joseph Ballamard, an assistant professor at NYU Langone who studies the epidemiology of drug abuse. For example, many fentanyl pills are blue in color and pressed with the M30 logo to resemble oxycodone. in a study published in Dependence on drugs and alcohol In May, Ballamar and colleagues found that the seized portion of fentanyl in tablet form increased from 13.8% in 2018 to 29.2% in 2021. [my children] That illegally obtained pills can contain fentanyl, and that exposure to even a small amount can be enough to kill someone.”
How do you keep your children safe?
Palamar says it’s essential to store all medicines in places where young children can’t reach them. “I am not sure if the manufacturers or dealers intend to lure these new pills to attract children, but my concern is that they Can It attracts children,” says Ballamar. “My concern is if a parent, sibling, or friend leaves one of these fentanyl pills on, and then someone — a child or an adult — eats it thinking it’s candy.”
Hadland says maintaining an open dialogue with teens about the dangers of illegal drugs can help protect them. Teens should know that illegally obtained pills may contain fentanyl, and that even a small amount of fentanyl can be fatal, he says.
Parents should also consider keeping an extension Narcan reverses an opioid overdose On hand, which can save someone’s life. “I think of it as a fire extinguisher,” Hadland says. “It’s the thing you’ve always wanted in your home but never actually wanted to use.”
Hadland says some teens use illegal drugs to deal with an addiction or mental health disorder, and parents should watch for red flags. For example, teens often use alcohol, marijuana, or nicotine before switching to more dangerous drugs; He says it is particularly concerning if the teen uses the substances frequently. Other warning signs can include struggles at school and changes or deterioration in their relationships. However, prevention is best, and making sure children have support for any mental health issues is one of the best ways to prevent substance abuse.
“I think the conversations are often worrisome: ‘Look at this new drug! Imagine if this would reach your community! “We also need to remember that many young people who abuse these substances have mental health issues or addictions that are not fully treated. And we need to make sure we provide the resources for that.”
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