ARC raising concerns over rise in teenage overdoses

The Addiction Recovery Care network says fentanyl is to blame for most of those deaths. Fentanyl is an opioid that health experts say is 80-to-100 times stronger than morphine. 

LOUISA, Ky (WTVQ)- A Central and Eastern Kentucky recovery center network is sounding the alarm with the release of troubling new data showing a sharp increase in overdoses among teenagers. And those statistics show the majority of those are fentanyl-related.

According to Addiction Recovery Care’s website, a study from the JAMA Network uncovered a 94% increase in fatal overdoses among teens from 2019 to 2020 nationally.

“What’s happening is teenagers are, as teenagers are likely to be, experimenting with drugs and medication and they literally don’t realize what is within this medication, whether it’s marijuana or an illicit pill,” said Johnathan Gay, Deputy Lead Council for ARC. “And, they’re taking this and not waking up. And their parents are finding them the next day, and it’s just absolutely tragic.”

Gay says fentanyl is to blame for most of those deaths. Fentanyl is an opioid that health experts say is 80-to-100 times stronger than morphine.

“It’s extremely concerning and I think that it reminds us that, despite the fact that we’ve been fighting this war on drugs for many, many years, we haven’t beaten it yet,” Gay said. “And, in fact, we’re facing some very dangerous days in the future because of this fentanyl.”

Gay says drug dealers see a benefit to using fentanyl because it takes a smaller volume of medication to traffic in order to get people high.
He says the center sees hundreds of adults die every year in Kentucky, and while the numbers of teenagers aren’t raising a major concern yet, it could soon become a issue.

“It’s only a matter of time before we see the numbers start to trickle down and work their way into the teenage population,” Gay said.

That’s why ARC is encouraging parents to have those conversations with their teenagers now, no matter how hard it might be before it’s too late.

“When you’re purchasing a pill off the streets, you have no idea what’s in it, that some drug dealer has pressed into that and you have no idea that level of sophistication that the drug dealer has. It may be totally accidental, but you’re totally taking a chance that you may lose your life,” Gay said.

 

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