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Online Edition of The Cardinal Times

The Cardinal Times

Online Edition of The Cardinal Times

The Cardinal Times

Rise in fentanyl use affects teens and young adults

Scarlett Dempsey
On Oct. 2, eight people overdosed in the South Park Blocks on NW Couch St. and Park Ave. after ingesting a powder that was laced with fentanyl.

According to KGW8, on the morning of Oct. 2, eight people in their late teens and early twenties overdosed in the South Park Blocks on NW Couch St. and Park Ave. after ingesting a powder that was laced with fentanyl. Four of them were transported to the hospital and four others refused to go. All eight people were given Narcan nasal spray to rapidly reverse the effects of the overdoses. This is the largest number of overdoses that Portland Fire and Rescue has seen happen in one group. 

According to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), while pharmaceutical fentanyl is a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved opioid used to treat severe pain, illegally made fentanyl shipped from China and Mexico began showing up in the United States in 2014. Fentanyl is sold cheaply on the street. In addition, other drugs are laced with fentanyl, making them more potent. 

The state of Oregon saw a 67% increase in deaths by fentanyl overdose in 2023 compared to 2022 according to Families Against Fentanyl, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to “eliminate the use and production of fentanyl and to promote harm reduction programs for people who are affected by fentanyl poisoning.” This increase was the largest of  any state in the country. 

Nurse Mary Johnson said students and staff see the effects of fentanyl use on the streets around Lincoln.

“At Lincoln High School, being situated downtown, students are exposed to the effects of [fentanyl] all the time,” said Johnson. “There’s a large population downtown [that use fentanyl], so walking to and from school, it is pretty evident […] when someone is using fentanyl because they are so drug-affected.”

Sophomore Halle Sowders thinks that the prevalence of fentanyl in Portland has impacted Lincoln students and their sense of safety.

“People on drugs can not always be in their right mindset, which can harm people in many ways,” said Sowders. “It makes simple tasks like going shopping downtown a little bit more scary.”

Sowders also believes that teens need to be aware of the risk of street drugs and the potentially fatal consequences of fentanyl. 

“For students, it’s just super scary because high schoolers can [do things that aren’t smart]. If there’s [drugs] that are laced it could end really badly,” said Sowders. “You hear things about people your own age that involve fentanyl, and it’s just a very scary topic overall, so being aware is really important.” 

The Cardinal Times published Two PPS students die from suspected overdoses after taking fentanyl-laced blue pills in March 2022.

There are many virtual as well as in-person resources to educate yourself on the risks of fentanyl, including The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) national helpline 800-662-4357, YouthLine 877-968-8491 or text “TEEN2TEEN” to 839863 to text directly with other teens who are trained to support and talk to youth experiencing mental health issues. 

At Lincoln, contact Nurse Mary Johnson at [email protected], reach out to one of Lincoln’s confidential advocates Katie at [email protected] or Julia at [email protected], or visit your counselor in the counseling center.

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About the Contributor
Scarlett Dempsey
Scarlett Dempsey, Opinion Editor & Design Editor
Scarlett is a sophomore this year. She is excited to learn more about the news process and become a better writer. Her favorite part of newspaper is design.
Contact by emailing [email protected] and put the reporter's name in the subject line.

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