How Can We Prevent Drug Abuse Among Our Youth?

A recent article from Epoch Times painted a picture of drug abuse that all of us in a caring society does not want to see – a rise in fentanyl deaths. Families Against Fentanyl (FAF) reports that in 2021, fentanyl poisoning was the leading cause of death among Americans aged 18 to 45. This surpassed deaths related to Covid-19, car accidents, and suicide. How can we reverse this trend and prevent drug abuse among our youth?

Fentanyl is a potent synthetic opioid. Typically the components are manufactured in China, shipped to Mexico for pill manufacturing, and brought into our country through an open southern border. 

Fentanyl Deaths By Age

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported the following statistics

  • 4,765 children and young adults aged from 14 to 23 died from using synthetic opioids in 2021
  • The number of deaths of children and young adults more than doubled between 2018 and 2021.
  • In 2020 alone, there were 91,799 drug-related deaths. (Source)
  • In 2021, the number of drug-related deaths was 106,719. (Source)
  • Approximately 82% of substance abuse-related deaths involved at least one opioid. Fentanyl is the most common. (Source)

…addiction has three major drivers: genetics (about 50% impact), drug availability, and environment.

American Addiction Center

Lost Voices 

April Babcock lost her son Austen on January 26, 2019, who took what he believed was cocaine but was laced with fentanyl. She thinks the number of overdose deaths from fentanyl is significantly underreported for many reasons. Deaths are often attributed to other circumstances without always analyzing the deceased for chemical substances that may have caused death. Also, smaller counties may not have the infrastructure and funding to support the detailed analysis of fentanyl-laced drugs.  

On the morning of July 25, 2020, Matthew Thomas took what he believed was Percocet, a prescription drug for pain relief. He died moments later, a victim of fentanyl poisoning.

April Babcock and Wendy Thomas, Matthew’s mother, have both become activists to raise awareness about illicit fentanyl. April Babcock is the founder of Lost Voices of Fentanyl, a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising awareness of illicit fentanyl. Wendy Thomas is the founder of Matthew’s Voice which provides presentations at local high schools and teen organizations sharing the consequences of drug use. Babcock and Thomas both agreed that the ease of obtaining illicit fentanyl is similar to ordering a pizza.

What Are the Drivers of Addiction, and How Do Young People Get There? 

Most addiction starts with prescription pain pills. People can become addicted without realizing it.  

According to the American Addiction Center and other researchers, addiction has three major drivers: genetics (about 50% impact), drug availability, and environment. So how do we combat each of these drivers of untimely death in our young people?

  1. Education and awareness must be communicated that a youth may have a genetic tendency toward addiction. We cannot defeat an enemy until we understand who he is.
  2. A full-scale assault has to happen – control our border drug traffic, make social media accounts, and support law enforcement efforts to stop the drug trade.  
  3. Here is a wake-up call to parents, homes, schools, churches, and social organizations – join the war to provide a healthy and positive environment for our kids.  

The Field of Hope will be starting a Resiliency program for youth beginning this fall school year. This treatment program will have activities, food, and group resiliency-building sessions. Individual counseling will be available from certified clinicians. We will fight for our young people’s lives. Come join the fight. Donate or volunteer for the battle. Call 740-245-3051 to find out how you can help.  

Organizations such as Field of Hope and Gallia-Jackson-Meigs ADAMH Board work to try to help those who are lost in addiction and unsure where to go or who to turn to. At Field of Hope, we understand that there can be many obstacles when rebuilding a new life in recovery. You will not do this alone. We provide services for drug, alcohol, and gambling addiction recovery and mental health care. Caring staff will walk alongside you to help you put the pieces together from start to finish. Call us today at (740) 245-3051

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