Fentanyl Overdose and Why Fentanyl is Becoming More Dangerous Among Teens
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Fentanyl is proving to be a major problem among teens, as statistics show that the drug is often involved in the majority of overdoses. Statistics show that between 2019 and 2021, fentanyl was implicated in 84% of teen overdose deaths.[1] The availability and dangers the drug presents contribute to this alarming fact. As we examine the dangers of fentanyl use among teens, we’ll also share some signs that your child may be using the drug and what you can do to prevent a fentanyl overdose.

What is Fentanyl?

Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid that is similar to morphine but is 50 to 100 times more potent.[2] It is typically used to treat pain, especially in patients who recently had surgery. It can also be used to treat chronic pain for people who have a tolerance to other opioids. While it is a prescription drug, fentanyl can also be used illegally.

Fentanyl can be given as a shot, a patch, or as lozenges when prescribed by a doctor. The illegal form of fentanyl is a synthetic version that is sold as a powder or made into pills that appear as other prescription drugs.

On the street, fentanyl is often mixed with other drugs like cocaine and heroin. This is often a cheaper way for people to get high and is very risky because many don’t realize fentanyl has been added. Because they are taking stronger opioids, they can be more likely to overdose.

The Dangers of Fentanyl Use for Teens

Fentanyl is very dangerous for teens because many may not even realize they are taking it. As we mentioned above, fentanyl is often mixed in with other drugs without the user’s knowledge. It is also packaged to look like other prescription drugs like Vicodin or Xanax. So, teens may not even know that there is fentanyl mixed in. This can result in overdoses and death.

Fentanyl interacts with opioid receptors in the central nervous system, preventing the brain from receiving pain messages and producing euphoric feelings. Since fentanyl is a short-acting drug, users get a quick high that wears off rapidly. The desire to maintain that high is what makes fentanyl so addictive.

Research further highlights the dangers of fentanyl use among teens and its effects. Studies show that 5 out of every 100,000 young people ages 14-18 died of an overdose in 2020. More than 70% of those deaths were from illicit fentanyl and other synthetic drugs.[3] Educating your teen about the dangers of fentanyl and how it can be presented is one of the most important things that parents can do to prevent a fentanyl overdose.

Signs Your Teen May Be Abusing Fentanyl

Being aware of the signs of fentanyl use can also raise red flags for parents and allow them to get their children the help they need before it is too late. These include[4]:

  • Withdrawing from activities
  • Spending time with new friends
  • Poor grades
  • Slurred speech
  • Sedation
  • Exhaustion
  • Erratic behavior

If you begin to notice any of these symptoms in your teen, it’s important to talk to them and get them the help they need. Acting sooner rather than later is the key to preventing fentanyl overdose and saving their life.

Preventing Fentanyl Overdose with Treatment Programs at Ember Recovery

If you’re worried about fentanyl overdose in your teen, get them the help they need at Ember Recovery. Our team offers individualized treatment plans to help each teen get the necessary help to battle their substance abuse disorder. We understand the specific challenges teens face in their recovery and strive to see them through their difficult times. Call today to learn more about our treatment programs.



[1] https://www.pharmacist.com/Pharmacy-News/drug-overdose-deaths-among-teenagers-surged-during-the-covid-19-pandemic

[2] https://nida.nih.gov/publications/drugfacts/fentanyl

[3] https://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/teen-overdose-deaths-spiked-low-drug-use-rcna23103

[4] https://health.choc.org/what-parents-should-know-about-fentanyl/