Sadly, there has been an increase in overdose deaths throughout the nation and in Spokane County, driven largely by fentanyl found in illicit pills and powders. According to the health department, these deaths are occurring more frequently among people 18 or younger. We share this information provided to us by public health officials so that you are aware of the danger and can discuss this information with your children.
Fentanyl being disguised as candy
Fentanyl is becoming increasingly common in our region; it is a powerful synthetic opioid that is like morphine but is up to 100 times more potent. Fentanyl is odorless, tasteless, and colorless. Young people think they are taking “blues,” (OxyContin or Xanax) but recently, a larger number of these illicit pills are laced with fentanyl. Recently, public health officials and law enforcement agencies have also warned about the danger of fentanyl being disguised as candy, specifically targeted to be sold to children. It's vital to understand that just one pill has the potential to be deadly.
- Children must beware of counterfeit pills that may look like prescription drugs. They likely contain fentanyl.
- Oxycodone pills that are sold on the street or online likely contain fentanyl.
- You can’t smell or taste fentanyl. You can’t tell if there’s fentanyl in the pills by looking at them.
- Children must understand that they should never consume any pill that is not prescribed by a doctor and from a pharmacy (or provided by their parent or caregiver).
- The amount of fentanyl can vary between pills, even within the same batch. While a single pill might get a person high without killing them, another pill could be fatal.
Awareness and communication are our best prevention tools
Our best strategy is talking to children about the points above and educating them about the risks involved in taking pills from anyone but their physician or parent (even from close friends). This is an increasingly important conversation that can save your child’s life. On January 25th, Deer Park School District will welcome representatives from Spokane Regional Health (who also happen to be parents of children in our community) who will help educate parents about the dangers of this synthetic opioid - you can find more information about this event HERE.
Additionally, talk to your child(ren) about social media use and monitor their behavior online. The online environment provides multiple platforms for people to market and sell illicit substances - these people understand that young people are using and interacting on these platforms daily. Also on the evening of January 25th, Steve Schreiner, a technology specialist from NorthEast Washington ESD 101, will share important information for families about social media and the dangers our children face when they "overshare" when using these platforms.
Read more from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention: Drug Overdose Deaths Increasing Among Persons Aged 10–19 Years