As more teenagers throughout the nation are overdosing on fentanyl, country leaders are rallying to bring solutions to communities that are or could be affected, according to multiple online news sources.

Fentanyl is an opioid drug used to treat severe pain and is “50 to 100 times more potent than morphine,” the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said, adding that illegal drug makers can mix fentanyl with heroin or cocaine to increase euphoric effects “with or without the user’s knowledge.”

Dr. Scott Hadland, an addiction specialist and head of adolescent medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, told NBC News that the rise in fentanyl overdoses for teenagers is partly due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The period of social isolation negatively affected mental health in young people, leading some to seek out ways to self-medicate with drugs that are not prescribed to them, and which are often counterfeit,” Hadland said.

Alberto Carvalho, the superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District, told NPR that “(Fentanyl’s) infiltration into schools is certainly something that cannot be ignored,” and, “We cannot close our eyes. We cannot look the other way.”

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Politico reported that states throughout the country “enacted more than 100 laws during their 2023 legislative sessions seeking to raise awareness, increase penalties for dealers and prevent overdoses.”

In California, Democratic state Sen. Dave Cortese told Politico, “What we all know is that the school-age demographic is getting hit the hardest with this; it’s causing 1 in 5 youth deaths” in the state.

NBC News reported on a study from the CDC that compared two time periods — July to December 2019 and the same months in 2021 — and found that the “median monthly overdose deaths involving fentanyl for people ages 10 to 19 increased 182%.”

NPR said almost 25% of those deaths involved “counterfeit pills that weren’t prescribed by a doctor.”

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Said Carvalho, “If our students are having contact with these substances, considering the devastating implications and consequences, then we need to be active participants in the solution, and not necessarily shy away from it or punt it to somebody else because it falls outside of the realm of traditional education,” per NPR.

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Naloxone is a drug that can reverse an opioid overdose if administered in time, either through the nose using a nasal spray or injected into the body with a solution, according to the CDC.

The Deseret News has previously reported on RiVive, which is “likely the most affordable naloxone product to date for the public,” predicted to be available in early 2024 and manufactured by the nonprofit pharmaceutical company Harm Reduction Therapeutics.

Michael Hufford, co-founder and CEO of Harm Reduction Therapeutics, told the Deseret News, “The fact that pharmaceutical manufacturers had raised the price of the product (naloxone) as the opioid epidemic unfolded, we thought we had to do something about that.”

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