Police Warn of Fentanyl Use in Teens

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Hartford Police Sergeant Chris Mastroianni has been giving presentations to parents, teachers, school nurses, and principals to educate them about the dangers of fentanyl after a 13-year-old student overdosed at school and later died.

Fentanyl is often packaged in very small bags, similar to the size of a gum wrapper. It costs $2 to $3 per bag, but most are sold in bundles of 10, according to Mastroianni.

“It's very small, it's very easily concealed. And then it could be right in front of you and you won't even know it,” said Mastroianni, who has been showing pictures of the products during the presentations so people know what to look for.

Hartford Police have a person of interest, but detectives are still investigating who gave the 13-year-old Hartford student more than 100 bags of fentanyl.

These bags were much more dangerous because 58% of the powder inside them was fentanyl, according to police.

“On average, about 2% of that powder substance is actually fentanyl. The rest is just filler products, sometimes caffeine powders, any kind of various powders, like tasteless powders, or even sometimes other narcotics, cocktail then blended in,” said Mastroianni. “The powder substance that was inside that bag, 58% of that was fentanyl as opposed to on average 2%. So that becomes you know, a very, very dangerous product, very deadly product, especially for a child weighing, you know, most kids at that age under 100 pounds. Very dangerous.”

Police don’t yet know if it was an inexperienced person cutting the drugs or why there was so much fentanyl. But they are purposely not sharing pictures of the drug packaging.

“We've stayed away from sharing stamps. Because if it does cause overdose deaths, the users tend to flock to that stamp, and seek it out,” Mastroianni said.   

Police say most of the time users start with pills like oxycodone and then they jump to heroin or fentanyl because it’s much cheaper.

Fentanyl can be injected with a needle, ingested, smoked, or snorted; all dangerous options police say. It can also, unbeknownst to the user, be mixed with other drugs like oxy, cocaine, or even marijuana.

If your child is using fentanyl, they may be sleepy, or tend to nod off during conversations, have constipation, and because it affects their breathing, they may make funny noises while sleeping.

“Someone who's used opioids will have these pin pupils, telltale signs, there can be particularly with newer users itching, red eyes, from histamine release from opioids, there can be nausea and vomiting,” said Dr. J. Craig Allen, the vice president of addiction services at Hartford Healthcare’s Behavioral Health Network.  

Dr. Allen’s best advice is don’t wait. Parents need to talk to their kids immediately about the dangers of drugs and what their game plan would be if offered them.

“The amount of fentanyl that is in our communities and the ready availability, the ease of access, and the fact that it is in some other drugs. This is a conversation you want to have with your kids,” said Dr. Allen. “You can say hey, what's it like when you go to school? Any of your friends ever try this stuff or you ever hear about other people trying this stuff? What would you do if you were in a situation and all the other kids were saying, 'hey, let's do this'? Do you have a strategy? Do you have an out? Call me. I'm available for you.”

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