WASHINGTON (WDVM) — The Prince William County Police Department is warning the community of fentanyl disguised as prescription drugs. This comes after two teenagers died of a drug overdose within 48 hours.
WDVM talked to Dr. Gail D’Onofrio an addiction specialist who has worked with people who suffer from addiction for over 30 years.
She said, “It’s extremely alarming,” when talking about the numbers associated with teenagers and drug overdose.
Dr. D’Onofrio said it is more dangerous than ever to use non-prescribed drugs because fentanyl is being covertly added to them or disguised as them.
She explained, “(Fentanyl) is one hundred times more powerful than morphine and fifty times more powerful than heroine. They will not be able to tell (a difference). It is very much like counterfeit money. Unless you are an expert, you may not be able to tell it’s counterfeit.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of fatal overdoses in teenagers 14-years-old to 18-years-old doubled within the past two years. Additionally, police seizures of fentanyl disguised as other pills skyrocketed. Recorded numbers show over 260,000 disguised pills seized in 2018 and 9.6 million disguised pills seized in 2021. That is a jump of over 4,000 percent.
First Sergeant Jonathan Perok with the Prince William County Police Public Information Office said, “Kids are doing things that their parents are not aware of, and parents really need to take that active role in their young person’s life to figure out what is going on.”
Dr. D’Onofrio agreed.
She said, “Parents need to not think about the fact that it’s never going to happen to you, because it happens to everyone and it will happen to them. So, they need to commit to asking some difficult questions and having some tough conversations.”
Dr. D’Onofrio said it is also important to focus on messaging and harm reduction. She said, “Kids are experimenting and they’re not understanding that one time could lead to death. So, we have to get harm reduction, like fentanyl testing strips and everyone needs to have Narcan.”
Across the DMV, there are ways for community members to get Narcan for free.