Fentanyl Awareness

Fentanyl: What to Know and How to Stay Safe

The Shared Future Coalition recognizes that the safe use of prescription drugs is important for health and well-being. For this reason, we are sharing information and safety tips about fake pills. The good news is that most students in our community do NOT misuse prescription drugs.

The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) makes sure that prescription drugs are safe and effective for us to use. Drugs sold at a store or pharmacy have passed safety checks by the FDA. It is very important to use prescription drugs under the care of a doctor and exactly as instructed. It is very dangerous to use someone else’s medications and to share your own prescription medications with someone else. It can also be harmful to use prescription medication with other things such as alcohol or marijuana.

The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office have found that illegal drug dealers are selling fake prescription pills. These fake pills contain a drug called fentanyl. Fentanyl is a very strong pain medication – 50 times stronger than heroin. Use of fentanyl can easily result in overdose or death when not used in a medical setting. Even very small amounts of fentanyl, such as the size of two grains of sand, can be deadly. The fake pills may look exactly like prescription drugs such as Xanax, Adderall, OxyContin, or Percocet. These fake pills are not checked for safety. The amount of fentanyl in the fake pills can be different in every pill. These fake pills have NO medical, NOR treatment value. They are dangerous and should not be taken. Fentanyl is a very strong pain medication prescribed by medical professionals in very specific cases. Uses of fentanyl can easily result in overdose or death when not used in a medical setting.

Over 95% of students in Deschutes County do NOT misuse prescription drugs, nor use drugs obtained from the illegal market. Every day, students reach out for help when they are facing hard times or when they are feeling physical pain. The best way to PREVENT drug overdose is NOT TO USE PILLS that you get from someone other than a doctor or pharmacist.

Each of us can make a difference by following these five steps:

  1. only use medications prescribed by your doctor and follow their instructions
  2. never share prescription medication
  3. store medications at home in safe locations
  4. get rid of unused medications at a drug disposal location near you
  5. learn about reversing an overdose with Narcan

When properly used, medications can be effective tools for managing discomfort  and assisting with healing. However, if misused, they can be lethal. Know how to prevent and respond to an overdose to help save a life. Learn more here.

Tips for Youth:

If you encounter pills or suspect that pills are from a source other than a doctor or pharmacist:

  • Alert a school staff person to help you properly dispose of the pills
  • If an adult or school staff is not available, use the SafeOregon app to share information so that the pills can be removed from circulation

If you need support, or you are concerned for a friend or family member who may be misusing prescription drugs, or using drugs not prescribed to them by a doctor or pharmacist:

  • Reach out to a trusted adult
  • Use the YouthLine to reach out for peer support (877-968-8491)
  • Use the SafeOregon.com website to share a tip about fake pills
  • Talk to your school counselor about the UpShift program
  • Learn where to get Narcan by talking to the school nurse. Narcan is a nasal spray that may be able to reverse an overdose.
  • Learn how to use Narcan at ReverseOverdose.org

Misuse of prescription drugs and use of illegal substances is not common. We encourage you to continue striving for your own health and encouraging those around you to do the same.

Tips for Parents/Guardians:

Studies show that parents have the most impact on their children’s decision to avoid substance misuse. Talking clearly and often with your child/teen about not misusing substances is proven to work. It is also important for parents/care givers to model positive, healthy behaviors.

  • Make clear to your child that you do not approve of substance misuse. Connect your position to your values as a family.
  • Make family rules and follow through with them every time. Reward the actions you want to see, too!
  • Bring up the topic of drug use early. Check back in with your teen often. Talk about what your child can do to be healthy.
  • Use parent toolkits and information to help you speak with confidence.
  • Get to know your teen’s friends. Make sure you know what activities they do together. Talk about how they can avoid activities where substance use may be happening.
  • Learn more about how substances can affect your teenager’s growing brain.
  • Look into your family history to see if there is a history of addiction. This could mean your family is more at risk.

Misuse of prescription drugs and use of illegal substances is not common. Parents are a very important part of the solution. Our community can work together to make change. For more information about prescription drug safety and reversing drug overdose, go to https://takemedsseriouslyoregon.org/ or https://www.reverseoverdose.org/.

Talking to your teen about prescription drug safety will empower them to start building life-long habits that can protect themselves and others. The Child Mind Institute provides some great resources for communicating with your teen and developing strong parent-child relationships. Tips in this article can apply to most any conversation you have with your teen.

Child Mind Institute website