Nationally, fentanyl deaths increased more than 56% from 2019 to 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.
Now, a nationwide shortage in prescription drugs such as Adderall has some health experts concerned people will turn to street drugs, which could have fentanyl in them.
“Unfortunately, there are things available on the street that will work in the moment for them and make them feel better and get through the season,” said Marissa Kirch, a mental health and addiction expert at Northwestern Medicine in Illinois.
A simple text or call can make all the difference sometimes.
“That’s truly what people are looking for during the holiday season is that connection with people who care about them,” Kirch said.
With traffickers making bigger and faster money by pushing products with fentanyl, any drug off the street is like a round of roulette.
“Whatever it is you’re about to smoke is very likely laced with fentanyl,” Charles Marino, CEO of Sentinel Security Solutions, said. “Whatever drug you’re about to shoot or take into your body any other way, you have to assume it’s laced with fentanyl.”
By now, there are countless pills all over the U.S. disguised as prescription drugs such as Percocet, Adderall, Oxycontin and Xanax. Fentanyl has even been detected in candy and gummies.
“They’re going to continue to get very creative because it’s a business,” Marino said.
For one grieving father, this problem is personal.
“There’s not a drug dealer today that doesn’t know there’s a possibility the person they’re selling to might die,” Matt Capelouto, who lost his daughter to fentanyl, said.
Because traffickers are developing new illegal products that are more colorful and edible, experts fear an increase in deaths among even younger victims.
They’re urging parents to speak with their children about drugs and the current fentanyl emergency.