This story has been updated.
Parents, too, can help, say public health experts, by making sure they have Narcan nasal spray available in their home.
“It is such an important lifesaving medication, with really no side effects and no danger from using it, that everyone should just consider having it as a part of their first aid kit,” said Erin McKnight, medical director of the Substance Use Treatment and Recovery Program at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. “It’s one of those things that you don’t realize you need until the moment arises.”
Fentanyl is a highly addictive opioid that can be manufactured legally and illegally. It is stronger, cheaper and more readily available than heroin and other opioids, leaving substance users at greater risk of overdose. A lethal dose of fentanyl for adults is 2 milligrams, compared with 30 milligrams for heroin. Children can be poisoned by much less.
One form of the drug is “rainbow fentanyl,” which can come as colorful pills or as powder, or as something that looks like sidewalk chalk.
Manufacturers of illicit drugs also often add fentanyl to counterfeit pain, anxiety and ADHD medications to make them stronger or more addictive, which is another reason for the spike in overdoses.
Here’s what else parents need to know about fentanyl and the antidote Narcan.