Families Against Fentanyl, a nonprofit organization, reports that fentanyl-related deaths among children under 14 are on the rise.
Fentanyl is an opioid compound used to relieve severe pain in cancer patients and those recuperating from surgery. The medication is also used for pain management in end-of-life care. Nonetheless, the drug is also illicitly produced, distributed, and frequently mixed with other illegal substances.
Fentanyl and its derivatives, including acetyl fentanyl, furanyl fentanyl, and carfentanil, are extremely strong substances. According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), a person can be killed by as little as 2 milligrams (mg) of fentanyl, depending on past use and body size. Moreover, 1 kilogram (kg) of fentanyl has the capacity to kill 500 individuals.
The EPA also adds that 42 percent of pills tested for fentanyl contained at least 2 mg of the substance, which is a potentially deadly amount. According to data from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), 106,699 drug-related overdose deaths were recorded in the United States in 2021. The research also indicates that synthetic opioids other than methadone (mainly fentanyl) contributed significantly to the deaths.
Moreover, according to Families Against Fentanyl (FAF), a non-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness about the substance, fentanyl is currently the biggest cause of mortality among Americans aged 18 to 45. Nonetheless, this conclusion is still the topic of professional discussion.
According to the organization, the majority of fentanyl poisoning victims are unaware they have consumed the drug, as it is frequently concealed in substances such as marijuana, ecstasy, and oxycodone. In addition, unscrupulous adults can combine fentanyl with substances that are appealing to minors. This has prompted worries about candy-colored fentanyl and cautions regarding fentanyl in Halloween candies.
In addition, the FAF reveals that fentanyl toxicity among young children is on the rise. For instance, between 2019 and 2021, the organization reports that fentanyl-related mortality among children under 14 have climbed more rapidly than deaths among any other age group. At the same time period, FAF reports that fentanyl-related deaths among infants aged one to four and children aged five to 14 tripled and quadrupled, respectively.
According to the parent-led organization Parents Together Action, the dangers of fentanyl-laced narcotics and other substances fueling the increase in child deaths lurk in social media.
In a parent advisory statement, the organization warns, “Parents should be aware that drugs are sold on all major social media platforms, including Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Pinterest, TikTok, Discord, and Telegram, and that a lethal dose of fentanyl can contaminate any other drug or supplement, including products designed to resemble vitamins.”
Many parents are outraged by the escalating fentanyl issue, particularly those who have suffered the heartbreaking loss of a child or children due to fentanyl poisoning.
Rebecca Kiessling, the mother of two boys, Caleb, 20, and Kyler, 18, who died of fentanyl poisoning on July 29, 2020, testified on the fentanyl issue before the Republican-led U.S. House Committee on Homeland Security on February 28.
Kiessling reportedly pushed Congress to take control of the fentanyl crisis during her testimony, stating, “This is a time of war. Act like it. Do some action.” According to the DEA, most illicit fentanyl is produced in foreign clandestine laboratories and transported into the United States via Mexico. Fox News reported in February that since October 2022, Border Patrol Agents had confiscated more than 465 pounds of fentanyl at U.S. borders, enough to kill 100 million people.
According to a White House statement, “the U.S., foreign partners, and industries, as well as the U.S. Department of the Treasury, will target the global fentanyl supply chain, particularly in Mexico, to disrupt the illicit production of synthetic opioids like fentanyl, which continue to drive overdose deaths.”
FAF suggests categorizing fentanyl as a Weapon of Mass Destruction in order to address the fentanyl crisis. This designation would let the U.S. government to cut off the drug’s supply chain without affecting the availability of fentanyl on prescription.
According to Parents Together Action, parents should tell their children that “one pill can kill” and any item not acquired from a pharmacy may contain a deadly amount of fentanyl.
They, along with the DEA, recommend that parents limit children’s usage of social media, especially those younger than 13 who are susceptible to online influence. In addition, parents should make their children are aware they can seek assistance from them in the event of a drug-related emergency.
Finally, parents and caregivers should consider purchasing Naloxone or Narcan. This medicine can reverse the effects of opioids, including fentanyl, and is readily available at most pharmacies without a prescription.