How Can I Protect My Child from Fentanyl? 5 Things Parents Need to Know

Fentanyl vs. Heroin: Two potentially fatal dosages

Takeaways

Fentanyl is 50 to 100 times more potent than heroin. The image above shows two potentially fatal dosages of fentanyl and heroin (photo: New Hampshire State Police Forensic Laboratory via NYT).

Deaths from fentanyl and other synthetic opioids (not including methadone), rose a staggering 72 percent in just one year, from 2014 to 2015. Government agencies and officials of all types are rightly concerned by what some are describing as the third wave of our ongoing opioid epidemic.

As a concerned parent, whose top priority is keeping your child safe — and alive — the following are the most important things to understand about fentanyl.

1. Fentanyl is 50 to 100 times more potent than heroin or morphine.
It is a schedule II prescription drug typically used to treat patients with severe pain or to manage pain after surgery. It is also sometimes used to treat patients with chronic pain who are physically tolerant to other opioids. In its prescription form, fentanyl is known by such names as Actiq®, Duragesic® and Sublimaze®.

2. It is relatively cheap to produce, increasing its presence in illicit street drugs.
Dealers use it to improve their bottom line. According to a report from the Office of National Drug Control Policy, evidence suggests that fentanyl is being pressed into pills that resemble OxyContin, Xanax, hydrocodone and other sought-after drugs, as well as being cut into heroin and other street drugs. A loved one buying illicit drugs may think they know what they’re getting, but there’s a real risk of it containing fentanyl, which can prove deadly.

3. Naloxone (Narcan) will work in case of overdose, but extra doses may be needed.
Because fentanyl is far more powerful than other opioids, the standard 1-2 doses of naloxone may not be enough. Calling 911 is the first step in responding to any overdose, but in the case of a fentanyl-related overdose the help of emergency responders, who will have more naloxone, is critical.  Learn more about naloxone and responding to opioid overdose >>

4. Even if someone could tell a product had been laced with fentanyl, it may not prevent their use.
Some individuals claim they can tell the difference between product that has been laced with fentanyl and that which hasn’t, but overdose statistics would say otherwise. Some harm reduction programs are offering test strips to determine whether heroin has been cut with fentanyl, but that knowledge may not be much of a deterrent to a loved one who just spent their last dollar to get high.

5. Getting a loved one into treatment is more critical than ever. 
If you need help in determining a course of action, please reach out to one of our parent counselors on our free Parent Helpline. Learn more about all the ways you can connect with our free and confidential services and begin getting one-on-one help.

Sources: National Institutes on Drug Abuse, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Drug Enforcement Administration.

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    Frank

    October 21, 2017 at 5:00 AM

    I am a retired veteran with full disability from the Vietnam war. I had major back surgery in 2012 and was told that I would probably be on some type of pain medication for the rest of my life. I was prescribed 50 mg tremadol which helps but I obtained a prescription for a 25% fentanyl patch which seems to be much more effective. I have tried stopping all pain meds several times but the pain returns and unbearable. I only use the patch one time per week as to not over do it. It does wonders along with the other meds for two to three days only. I have been told that I should consider using the patch maybe twice per week but I am hesitant because of all the bad news on all opioid drugs. What are your thoughts?
    I am diabetic but controlled and don’t have any kidney or liver or stomach problems. Just a lot of pain if I don’t take these pain meds.
    Thanks and would appreciate your assement on my issue.
    Thanks and will wait for your reply.

      User Picture

      Pat

      October 24, 2017 at 2:06 PM

      Hi Frank,
      Thanks for your question, however, it’s best directed to your doctor. It is important to consider the long-term impacts of opioid use and to see if there are any alternatives to reduce their use or as a substitute.
      The current thinking is that acupuncture, massage, physical therapy and other treatments could be helpful.
      Wishing you well,
      Pat

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    Amy Lavender

    October 5, 2017 at 2:36 AM

    Thank you for this very interesting article

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    Valerie St.Bernard

    May 25, 2017 at 10:31 AM

    I’m currently enrolled in college. I am studying to become a
    Chemical Dependence Counselor. I am looking to volunteer in Suffolk County area. Please let me know of any agencies looking for volunteer counselors.
    Thank you in advance for you help.
    Valerie St. Bernard

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    Andy Robinson

    May 25, 2017 at 9:29 AM

    Additionally if you know or are the loved one of an active user who is not yet at a place where they are ready to engage in treatment, you can and should promote a broad variety of harm reduction techniques. These include:
    Every effort to know or be familiar with your dealer
    Tester Shots
    Using in pairs or groups
    Alternating use within the group
    Calling 911 in the event someone does experience a medical emergency, even if you have successfully used Naloxone (Narcan)

      User Picture

      David Gripshover

      November 11, 2017 at 1:45 PM

      What is a tester shot?

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