In at the end of August, the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) issued warning to the public to find the “alarming emerging trend”: colorful pill and powder versions of Strong opioid fentanyl, known as the “fentanyl rainbow.” “This trend appears to be a new method used by drug cartels to sell highly addictive and potentially lethal fentanyl made to look like candy to children and young adults,” the agency said. .
Although fentanyl threatens the lives of young people – especially if they don’t know they are taking it – some drug experts warn that focusing only on the rainbow version could obscure dangerous drugs. no less other. Here’s what to know about the fentanyl rainbow, and how to protect yourself and your children.
The focus on the fentanyl rainbow can be misleading
Illegally produced fentanyl in any color is very dangerous, and some drug experts fear that too much focus has been placed on the risks posed by the fentanyl rainbow. “The kids are taking drugs, and some of them are dying from them. Dean Shold, co-founder of the nonprofit FentCheck, which provides fentanyl test strips and drug education, says it’s a complete distraction.
Another issue is that the DEA has not released evidence that the colors are specifically designed to appeal to children. Fentanyl has been available in many colors for many years, and a few studies yes Find That color is one of the ways drug users identify illegality effectiveness of the drug. “Really,” said Jon E. Zibbell, a senior public health analyst at RTI International, a nonprofit research institute that promotes science-based solutions to public health problems. is to keep them safe, because they know what they get for each color.
However, if a substance is marketed as a prescription drug such as oxycodone or Xanax, teenagers and other young people Dr. Scott E. Hadland, a pediatrician and addiction specialist at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, says people who use drugs may not realize they contain fentanyl. The supply illegal drugs in the US is very dangerous, in part because substances sold as drugs may contain a mixture of other substances, including dangerous substances such as tranquilizers for animals. xylazine and benzodiazepines. This randomness increases the overdose rate due to the combined effects of the drug, as well as the possibility that a person may consume an excessively strong opioid dose.
Hadland is concerned that multicolored fentanyl could make it “more interesting or appealing” to young people. But, he said, “fentanyl was everywhere on the market. I didn’t know this would be something new that would help teenagers use people who hadn’t used it before. “
Children already at risk from fentanyl
Over the past few years, the number of annual drug overdose deaths among 14- to 18-year-olds in the United States has increased, increasing from about 490 in 2019 to about 950 in 2020, according to a new report. analysis published year JAMA in April. An increasing number of teen drug overdose deaths are associated with fentanyl; The drug was responsible for more than two-thirds of overdose deaths in 2021.
Joseph Palamar, an associate professor at New York University, Langone who studies the epidemiology of drug use, is also more common when manufacturers squeeze fentanyl to look like a prescription drug. For example, many fentanyl pills are blue in color and laminated with the M30 logo to resemble oxycodone. In a study published In Dependence on drugs and alcohol In May, Palamar and colleagues found that the fraction of fentanyl seized in pill form had increased from 13.8% in 2018 to 29.2% in 2021. “I warn you. [my children] that illegally obtained pills may contain fentanyl, and that even a small amount of exposure can be enough to kill someone,” he said.
How to keep your kids safe
Palamar says it’s essential to store all medications in places where small children can’t reach them. “I’m not sure if the manufacturers or dealers intend these new pills to appeal to children, but what worries me is that they maybe Palamar said. “What worries me is if a child’s parent, sibling or friend leaves one of these fentanyl pills around and then someone – a child or an adult – eats it. and thought it was candy.”
Hadland says: Keeping an open dialogue with teenagers about the dangers of illegal drugs can help protect them. Teens should be aware that illegally obtained pills can contain fentanyl, and even small amounts of fentanyl can be fatal, he said.
Parents should also consider keeping Narcan opioid opioid overdose reversal medication in hand, can save someone’s life. Hadland said: “I think it’s like a fire extinguisher. “It’s something you’ve always wanted in your home but never wanted to really need to use.”
Hadland says some teens use illicit drugs for addiction or mental health disorders, and parents should watch out for red flags. For example, teenagers often use alcohol, marijuana or nicotine before turning to more dangerous drugs; That’s particularly relevant, he said, to a teen’s regular use of stimulants. Other warning signs may include difficulty in school and changes or deterioration in their relationships. However, prevention and ensuring that children receive support for any mental health problem is one of the best ways to protect against drug use.
“I think conversations are often quite wary: ‘Look at this new drug! Imagine if this was included in your community! ‘” Hadland said. “We also need to remember that many young people who use these substances are struggling with mental health problems or addictions that are completely unresolved. And we need to make sure we’re providing the resources for that.”
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