Drug Related Deaths Skyrocketing

Drug use has been increasing in adolescents, resulting in addiction, overdose, and long term diseases.Nicotine and fentanyl are the main culprits behind this trend. Nicotine is an addictive constituent of tobacco, and fentanyl is an addictive synthetic opioid. Nicotine vaping is the largest increase in adolescent substance use ever recorded. In 2018, youth e-cigarette use was 

declared a national epidemic by the United States Surgeon General. The trend hasn’t slowed since. Nicotine acts as a stimulant in small doses. In large quantities, this addictive chemical will alter the action of the autonomic nerve and musculoskeletal cells.

Woodgrove’s new substance abuse specialist, Mrs. Jazlynn Moody. Photo provided by Sarah Burns.

    In early March of 2023, Woodgrove held an informational meeting regarding fentanyl and its severity. Dr. Shipp estimates roughly sixty families from Woodgrove High School, Loudoun Valley High School, and Blue Ridge Middle School were in attendance. This is a significantly higher attendance count than years past. Although the meeting was held in regard to opioids, guidance counselor Ms. Amy Scott explains that parents are more concerned with vaping than fentanyl.

Although parents mainly hold concerns towards vaping, an anonymous law enforcement fentanyl specialist states, “Fentanyl is fifty times more potent than heroin and one hundred times more potent than morphine.” Fentanyl is designed to be used as a pain reliever in hospitals after surgery. Patients can be prescribed miniscule amounts of fentanyl after surgery to manage pain. Unfortunately, that characteristic is something that makes this drug addictive. Fentanyl can cause respiratory distress and death. This happens because fentanyl stops the release of GABA in your brain. GABA is a neurotransmitter inhibitor — helping regulate the transmition of chemicals in the brain. When stopped, fentanyl over releases dopamine, overwhelming the entrie brain and nerve system. Overdose occurs because opioids affect the brain/brainstem, so body rhythms stop happening because the brain is flooded with dopamine, blocking other receptors. 

    These two drugs come together in an unsettling way. Recently, sellers have a tendency to alter vaping devices by injecting fentanyl into them. The flavor in vapes makes this deadly drug difficult to detect. 

 In Alabama, fifteen year old Adrianna Taylor died due to an overdose after receiving and using a vape she was not aware was laced with fentanyl. This is due to something known as “cutting.” Fentanyl is used to cut into other drugs because of its relative cheapness. This is dangerous because the potency of the drug in the device is unknown. In Loudoun County this year, there have been four fatalities out of nine opioid related overdoses. From this statistic, four of these overdoses were adolescents. Just last year, there were fourteen fatalities out of sixty-six opioid related overdoses, seventeen of these overdoses being juveniles. 

Various drugs in the form of pills. Photo provided by Creative Commons.

 Drug rehabilitation is the process of medical, psychological, and therapeutic treatment for people who depend on and have an addiction to any kind of drug. There are multiple drug rehabilitation centers in northern Virginia including:

  • Insight Recovery Centers in Ashburn, VA. Phone number: (703) 592 – 6946
  • Aquila Recovery Northern Virginia in Leesburg, VA. Phone number: (571) 639 – 4775
  • Sandstone Care Virginia in Fairfax, VA. Phone number: (703) 397 – 8450