Opioid-related deaths are commonplace these days, but according to a recent CNN Health article, the effect is trickling down to younger victims. Analysis conducted by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for CNN revealed that drug deaths among children 10-14 years old more than tripled between 2019 and 2020. Research suggests the pandemic has only expedited the issue.
The main culprit it seems is fentanyl, which is 50-100 times more potent than morphine and is intended for patients with severe pain. However, most overdose deaths are linked to illegally-made fentanyl. According to the DEA, four out of every 10 fake pills with fentanyl contain a potentially lethal dose. Some believe social media is to blame, giving drug dealers access to kids through platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and YouTube. The problem has gotten to a point that some schools are now keeping naloxone, an antidote to opioid overdoses, on hand.
The article notes signs parents can look for in kids, including dissociative behavior, loss of interest in favorite activities, or increased sleep and anger. Medication-based treatments prove more effective than abstinence though, as well as individualized treatments such as peer counseling and drug rehabilitation.