Fentanyl use in Colorado has skyrocketed in the past few years. In 2021 there were over 800 fentanyl deaths in just Colorado, which is a 260% increase since 2019. “In 2020, 71 deaths were caused by fentanyl alone with 131 total drug overdoses (over 54% of overdoses due to fentanyl),” states Arapahoe county coroner, Dr. Kelly Lear.
Fentanyl is a depressant and synthetic opioid that is 50 times more potent than heroin. Fentanyl is a highly addictive drug with strong withdrawal symptoms, comparable to heroin withdrawals. “It is more potent than a lot of other opioids… so it takes less of it to overdose as well as an overdose happens much quicker,” explains Dr. Lear.
The CDC has stated that fentanyl is the most dangerous drug in America. Because such small amounts of this drug can be fatal, people overdose when using this drug for the first time. People don’t always know that they are taking fentanyl, as it is being laced into commonly used drugs like cocaine, methamphetamine, oxycontin and heroin. This drug is affecting all ages, races and genders.
Fentanyl was originally created to treat chronic problems and was supposed to be prescribed by a doctor. Now it has become a common drug that gets sold on the street. Since it is so easily laced into things, people overdose on it. Almost 61% of Heritage students are not aware of the drug problem with some not even knowing fentanyl is a drug.
“Teens tend to think nothing can hurt them and think they are unstoppable their is a lot of experimentation that happens in that age range, so it’s important for teens to know that fentanyl is out there and it’s a problem and its much more serious and potentially lethal,” says Dr. Lear.