“16 is Forever”: How America’s Teens Are Succumbing to Fentanyl – News

Makayla seemed fine one night in January when she went to her room after watching a “Harry Potter” movie. But when her mother, Shannon, walked into the room the next morning, she found the young woman sitting up a bit, her head tilted back, and orange liquid coming out of her nose and mouth.

“She was stiff and I shook her, called her name and called 911 [o equivalente ao 112 em Portugal]”, Shannon Doyle, 41, tells AFP from her home in Virginia Beach. “My neighbors came here and we did cardiopulmonary resuscitation, but it was too late. After that, I don’t remember much.”

The opioid crisis in the United States has reached catastrophic proportions, with more than 80,000 deaths last year, mostly from illegal synthetic substances like fentanyl.

This number is seven times higher than a decade ago.

“This is the most dangerous epidemic we’ve ever seen,” says Ray Donovan, director of operations for the US drug enforcement agency DEA. “Fentanyl is not like other illegal drugs in that it is immediately dangerous,” he points out.

Deaths are rising especially fast among young people who get drugs using false prescriptions on social media. What they buy is mixed with or prepared with fentanyl.

In 2019, 493 teenagers died of drug overdoses. By 2021, the number was 1,146.

Medicines and Emojis

Drug traffickers use emojis as symbols to reach young people through Snapchat, TikTok, Instagram and other apps.

Oxycodone, another opiate, is sometimes advertised as a half-peeled banana; Xanax, a benzodiazepine used to treat anxiety, like a candy bar; Adderall is an amphetamine that acts as a train-like stimulant.

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According to Wilson Compton, deputy director of the US National Institute on Drug Abuse, the number of Americans who use drugs has stayed the same in recent years, but the rate of death has changed.

A cup of heroin is equivalent to a tablespoon of fentanyl, and less than a gram can mean the difference between life and death.

Most of the illegal fentanyl in circulation in the United States is manufactured in clandestine laboratories of Mexican drug cartels using chemicals shipped from China.

Because fentanyl is more potent, it takes less to fill a prescription pill, which means more profits for the cartels.

Donovan explains that a kilo of pure fentanyl costs up to 12,000 dollars (11,628 euros) and is converted into half a million pills, which are sold for 30 dollars (about 29 euros) each, worth millions of dollars.

Also, transportation of tablets is easy.

Last year, the DEA seized nearly seven tons of fentanyl, enough to kill every American. Four out of every 10 pills seized contained the lethal drug fentanyl.

“One Pill Can Kill”

Photographs titled “The Face of Fentanyl” are displayed in a hallway at DEA headquarters. [As caras do fentanil, a imagem que ilustra este artigo]. Dozens of people have lost their lives recently due to this drug.

“Makayla. 16 forever,” says one.

The blue pills found on this top student and “cheerleader’s” bed were 100% fentanyl. Police are investigating, but no arrests have been made so far.

The DEA launched the “One Pill Can Kill” campaign last year to raise awareness of the dangers of fentanyl.

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There are efforts around the country to make the drug naloxone, which can reverse opioid overdoses, more accessible.

Shannon created a foundation in Makayla’s name to help prevent tragedies like her daughter’s. It’s your way of coping with grief.

* By Maria Danilova

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