Poll finds that many teens are not aware of the alarming trend of fentanyl-laced, fake prescription pills

ROANOKE, Va. – A recent poll has shed light on a concerning trend—many teenagers are not aware of the alarming rise in fentanyl-laced, fake prescription pills. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has issued warnings about the nationwide surge in pills containing this powerful synthetic opioid. Not only has there been an increase in pills laced with fentanyl, but the DEA Laboratory found that of those pills analyzed in 2022, six out of ten of them had a potentially deadly dose of fentanyl.

Despite the grave risks posed by these dangerous pills, a significant number of teens remain unaware of the growing danger. The 2023 poll conducted by the Roanoke Area Youth Substance Abuse Coalition (RAYSAC) found that nearly one in three people aged 18 to 24 didn’t believe pills obtained from sources other than licensed pharmacies could contain fentanyl.

RAYSAC Director Adam Neal told WDBJ News that the survey results are “alarming” and encourages adults to share information about the fentanyl epidemic with teens and young adults.

“It doesn’t have to be a parent. It can be a coach. It can be a mentor. It can be a neighbor down the street. Please talk to the youth in your life and let them know that this stuff is out there, and it’s not what it used to be. It’s a lot more dangerous,” Neal told WDBJ News.

Tragically, dozens of bereaved parents have shared their heartbreaking stories on the Emily’s Hope podcast, Grieving Out Loud. Many of these parents lost their children who took pills they believed to be Percocet, Oxy, or Xanax, but were, in fact, laced with deadly fentanyl.

One of those was Bridgette and Tom Norring’s 19-year-old son, Devin. Devin was an athlete, honor student and musician who made a deadly mistake. He bought what he thought was a Percocet from a drug dealer through Snapchat, but it was a deadly dose of fentanyl.

“I said, ‘You can’t die from taking a Percocet.’ My other child said, ‘Yes you can Mom. If it has fentanyl in it, you can die.’ I remember turning to the law enforcement officer standing at the door, and saying, ‘My son was murdered,’” Bridgette said.

As Emily’s Hope has previously reported, fentanyl is a synthetic opioid responsible for the highest number of deaths among Americans aged 18-45. Synthetic opioid overdoses, including fentanyl, have doubled among teens in the past three years.