Deaths from fake pills with fentanyl are surging across the country and right here in our Vancouver community. Teens are purchasing what they think are OxyContin, Percoset or Xanax pills via social media, but drug dealers are making these fake pills with the cheaper, stronger and more deadly synthetic drug called fentanyl to increase their profits. Fentanyl is up to 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times more potent than morphine. Fentanyl is odorless, tasteless and colorless. Teens never know what they’re getting. One pill can kill them. One pill.
The pills are nicknamed “Blues” for their common color (though they can come in other colors) or “M30s” for the stamp on the pills. The tablets are so well made that even experienced users say that they can’t tell the difference between a counterfeit pill and a pill manufactured by a pharmaceutical company. To be clear, these are not pharmaceutical-grade painkillers; they are pills made by drug dealers, mostly outside the country. There is no quality control. Pills in the same batch can have wildly varying levels of fentanyl. The amount of fentanyl it takes to overdose is equivalent to two grains of sand.
What can parents and caregivers do?
One of the best ways to protect kids from substance abuse is by having regular and open conversations to educate them about the risks. Listen to them without judgment. Also, monitor their social media use. Drugs are often offered by someone that they know or a stranger that they meet on social media.
Watch for changes in their behavior including:
- Irregular eating or sleeping patterns
- Low energy
- General signs of depression or anxiety
- Unusual irritability
- Slipping grades
- Lack of interest in activities that they once loved
- Drastic clothing style changes
If you notice a change, ask about it. Trust your instincts.