Fentanyl a large cause of death among US teens

Fentanyl Fentanyl is a highly potent synthetic opioid that has been linked to an upsurge in drug overdose deaths among adults in the United States in recent years.

According to CDC data, nearly 36,000 drug overdose deaths using synthetic opioids like fentanyl occurred in 2019 alone, accounting for more than 60% of all opioid-related overdose deaths.

Fentanyl’s potency, along with its broad availability and low cost, has contributed to its predominance in the illicit drug market, resulting in a public health disaster that is still affecting communities across the country.

Affecting the youth

While fentanyl has primarily affected adults, the synthetic opioid has recently been linked to the deaths of many children and teenagers in the United States.

Over 1,500 children under the age of 20 died from fentanyl in 2021, according to Yale School of Medicine epidemiologist Julie Gaither.

The number of fatalities is four times higher than in 2018.

In 2021, fentanyl fatalities accounted for virtually all opioid-related deaths in this age range.

The drug

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is used to alleviate severe pain in cancer patients.

It is also illegally made and distributed as a street drug.

The substance is far more strong than other opioids such as morphine and heroin, making it very deadly for recreational users.

Fentanyl production entails synthesizing the narcotic in a laboratory, often in nations such as China, and then trafficking it into other countries.

Without the user’s awareness, illicit fentanyl is frequently blended with other narcotics such as heroin or cocaine, increasing the danger of overdose.

The unlawful sale of fentanyl has exacerbated a broad public health concern in several nations, including the United States, where fentanyl overdose deaths have increased in recent years.

Replacing prescription drugs

Fentanyl is rapidly replacing prescription opioids such as oxycodone because it is less expensive and easier to get illegally.

This has resulted in an upsurge in overdoses since people frequently do not recognize they are taking fentanyl instead of the intended medicine.

Illicit fentanyl is also infecting counterfeit prescription pharmaceuticals, since traffickers frequently combine fentanyl with other narcotics to boost strength or imitate the effects of other prescription prescriptions.

Individuals attempting to manage their pain with legitimate prescription drugs may unknowingly be taking a dangerous amount of fentanyl as a result of this.

“That’s primarily the story of what’s happening among teenagers,” said Sarah Bagley, the pediatrician and addiction provider of the Boston University Chobanian & Avedisian School of Medicine.

Bagley claims that children buy and utilize drugs or substances without realizing they’re taking fentanyl.

“People are not anticipating that they are going to be exposed to fentanyl, and then they are, and that results in overdose.”

Read also: Breaking the Boundaries of Medicine: Immunotherapy Regenerative Medicine Offers Alternative Treatment To Previously Incurable Diseases


The following are some of the signs of a drug overdose:

  • Falling asleep
  • Losing consciousness
  • Gurgling
  • Choking sounds
  • Weak/no breathing

“This change in the drug supply, where you have a much more potent opioid, is really driving it all,” said Bagley.

According to Gaither, the majority of fentanyl deaths among adolescents and teens occurred at home.

“For smaller kids, kids who are mobile, they would be taking a drug that’s off the floor,” she said.

Gaither also stated that more education is needed to help parents realize how harmful fentanyl is and that narcotics should be kept away from children.

Mortality rate

Julie Gaither examined data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on pediatric mortality from 1999 through 2021.

During that time, the fentanyl mortality rate increased by more than 300%, rising from 0.47 per 100,000 children to 1.92 per 100,000.

Fentanyl killed 40 infants and 93 children aged one to four in 2021.

Adult fentanyl overdose fatalities have also climbed.

Out of over 106,000 drug overdose fatalities reported in 2022, more than 70,000 deaths in the United States were attributed to synthetic opioids, primarily fentanyl, in 2021.

A counter to overdose

The US Food and Drug Administration authorized Naloxone, an opioid overdose reversal medicine, for over-the-counter use in March.

It is scheduled to be available in a variety of retailers in late summer.

Some communities are teaching residents how to use the medication, which comes in the form of a nasal spray, and are distributing naloxone to victims.

According to Gaither, the drug is Narcan, an opiate antidote that is safe for children of all ages.

If parents have Narcan on hand, they can counteract the effects of opioids instantly.

Regardless, Bagley emphasized the importance of raising Narcan awareness among teenagers.

She has spoken with teens who have inquired about how they might keep their peers safe.

Discussing overdoses with kids, according to Bagley, means talking about the risks as well as how they take care of people in their life and respond in a crisis.


This article features branded content from a third party. Opinions in this article do not reflect the opinions and beliefs of CEO Weekly.